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Whatsthedifferencebetween4GandLTE?

WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN


4G AND LTE?
ByBradBourque February25,201512:48PM

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When youre looking at buying a new phone, you might nd that there
are way too many acronyms to choose from, between CDMA, GSM,
LTE, and WiMax, andthe list goes on. Instead, it can be easier to focus
simply on the dierences in these networks as they apply to you
directly. The simplest explanation is that the G in 4G stands for
generation, because 4G is the fourth generation of mobile data
technology, as dened by the radio sector of the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU-R). LTE stands for Long Term Evolution
and applies more generally to the idea of improving wireless
broadband speeds to meet increasing demand.

What is 3G?
When 3G networks started rolling out, they replaced the 2G system, a
network protocol that only allowed the most basic of what we would
now call smartphone functionality. Most 2G networks handled phone
calls, basic text messaging, and small amounts of data over a protocol
called MMS. With the introduction of 3G connectivity, a number of larger
data formats became much more accessible, including standard HTML
pages, videos, and music. The speeds were still pretty slow, and mostly
required pages and data specially formatted for these slower wireless
connections. By 2G standards, the new protocol was speedy, but still
didnt come anywhere close to replacing a home broadband
connection.

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What is 4G?

Igor Stevanovic

The ITU-R set standards for 4G


connectivity in March of 2008,
requiring all services described
as 4G to adhere to a set of
speed and connection
standards. For mobile use,
including smartphones and
tablets, connection speeds need
to have a peak of at least 100

megabits per second, and for more stationary uses such as mobile
hotspots, at least 1 gigabit per second.
When these standards were announced, these speeds were unheard of
in the practical world, because they were intended as a target for
technology developers, a point in the future that marked a signicant
jump over the current technology. Over time, the systems that power
these networks have caught up, not just in the sense that new
broadcasting methods have found their way into products, but the
previously-established 3G networks have been improved to the point
that they can be classied as 4G.

What is LTE?
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and isnt as much a technology as it
is the path followed to achieve 4G speeds. As it stands, most of the
time when your phone displays the 4G symbol in the upper right
corner, it doesnt really mean it. When the ITU-R set the minimum
speeds for 4G, they were a bit unreachable, despite the amount of
money tech manufacturers put into achieving them. In response, the
regulating body decided that LTE, the name given to the technology
used in pursuit of those standards,could be labeled as 4G if it provided
a substantial improvement over the 3G technology.
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Immediately networks began advertising their connections as 4G LTE, a


marketing technique that allowed them to claim next-gen connectivity
without having to reach the actual required number rst; it would be like
the U.S. claiming they had landed on the moon because they got pretty
close and the spaceship that got them there was a lot better than the
previous ship. Its not entirely trickery though,despite inconsistent
speeds depending on location and network, the dierence between 3G
and 4G is immediately noticeable.

Speed
So the real question is, can you feel a dierence between 4G and LTE
networks? Is the speed of loading a page or downloading an app on
your handheld a lot faster if you have LTE technology built in? Probably
not. While the dierence between slower 3G networks and new 4G or
LTE networks is certainly noticeably faster, most of the 4G and true 4G
networks have upload and download speeds that are almost identical.
For now, LTE is the fastest connection available for wireless networks.

Required resources
Creating 4G connectivity
requires two components: a
network that can support the
necessary speeds, and a device
that is able to connect to that
network and download
information at high enough
speed. Just because a phone has 4G LTE connectivity inside doesnt
mean you can get the speeds you want, in the same way that buying a
car that can drive 200 MPH doesnt mean you can go that fast on a 55
MPH freeway.

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Before carriers were able to truly oer LTE speeds in major areas, they
were selling phones that had the capabilities they would need to reach
the desired speeds, and afterwards started rolling out the service on a
limited scale. Now that LTE service is fairly widespread, this isnt as
much of a problem, but if you dont live in a major metropolitan area its
worth checking to make sure you actually need LTE service where you
live and work. With the rise in popularity, its uncommon for a provider
to charge less if you arent utilizing the LTE speeds on a regular basis,
but you can save money by picking up an older generation smartphone
with only 3G or 4G connectivity.

Packet-switching and circuit-switching


No matter what the data is or how fast its being transferred, it needs to
be packaged and sent so that other points on the network can interpret
it. Older networks use circuit-switching technology, a term that refers to
the method of communicating. In a circuit-switching system, a
connection is established directly to the target through the network,
and the entirety of the connection, whether its a phone call or a le
transfer, happens through that connection.
The advantages of a circuitswitched network include a faster
connection time, and less chance of
the connection dropping. Newer
networks take advantage of packetswitching technology, a modern
protocol that takes advantage of
the much larger number of
connected points across the globe.
In a packet-switching network, your
information is broken up into small chunks which are then sent to your
destination over whatever path is currently the most ecient. If a node
drops out of your connection in the circuit-switching networks, youll
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have to reconnect, but in a packet-switching network the next


packetwill simply hunt for a dierent path.
A lot of the technology used to create 4G speeds doesnt have
anything to do with voice communication. Because voice networks still
use circuit-switching technology, it became necessary to reconcile the
dierence between older and newer network structures. A few dierent
methods have been enacted that deal with the issue, and most carriers
chose to deploy one of two options that preserved their control over
the minutes used.
They do this by eitherallowing the phone to fall back to circuitswitching standards when usedto make or receive a call, or by using
packet-switching communication for data and circuit-switching for voice
at the same time. The third option is to simply run the voice audio as
data over the new LTE networks, a method that most companies have
avoided, most likely because it takes away their power to easily charge
for voice minutes. Voice over LTE is basically what happens already
when you make a Skype call or a Facetime Audio connection to
another user, with higher-resolution audio and faster connection
speeds.

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101Comments

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Addacomment...

JesseJeromeObobomICTMANAGER/SUPERVISORatBensube
http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/4gvslte/

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JesseJeromeObobomICTMANAGER/SUPERVISORatBensube
Wow,greatexplanation.ButI'vegottheLTEnetworkoptiononmyiPhone5'snetwork,canI
reallyuseitwithanLTENetworkprovider.IsitsupportedoniPhone5?
LikeReplyOct14,20165:24pm

LoriRichardsonNaturalAllergyEliminationPractitioneratCommunity
I'mverytechchalleneged.Ihavejustgonethroughaverystressfulsituationwithhavingto
sendmyGalaxys5backtothecarrier.Ishould'vehadthephonebackwithin710days.It's
beenalmostamonth.Igotthereplacementyesterday(btw,Ipaidfullpriceforthephonea
yearago).Itwas4GLTE.ThisonejustsaysLTE,anddidnnotevenarrivewithaback
batterycover.I'mnotclearonthiswhichisbetter,LTE,or4GLTE?
LikeReply

1Sep15,20165:21amEdited

EliahJohnsonBishopCottonBoys'School
HiLori,4GLTEandjustLTEarethesame.Whencellularserviceproviderswere
initiallyworkingtoenablespeedsgreaterthan3G,theysimplycalledit"4G",even
thoughtheyweren'ttrue4Gspeeds.LTEmatchedthat"4G"speedandwas
thereforeoftenreferredtoas4GLTE.True4Gshouldprovidedownloadspeedsof
upto1000mbps,whereasthe"4G"speeds,thattheserviceproviderswereableto
achieve,wasonly84mbps.LTEprovidesspeedsupto100mbps.Theconclusionis
thatthereisnodifferencebetweenthetwo.Theterm"4GLTE"wasusedsimplyto
advertise"fasterthan3G".
LikeReply

3Oct8,20166:50pm

WillievanderMerweHoerskoolPorterville
Excellentlyexplained.
LikeReply

3Sep14,20162:36am

DineshPatil
HelpedmemuchforwhatisLTEthanks
LikeReplySep13,20165:55pm

NguynMinhServeratNamPhuongRestaurantBufordHwyLocation
wishyouhaveacomparasionchartofindicateeachspeed
LikeReply

3Sep13,20165:36pm

JeremyKaplan

EditorinchiefatDigitalTrends

Goodsuggestion!We'llconsideritwhenwenextupdatethisarticle.
LikeReply

4Sep13,20166:02pm

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