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What is LTE? How is it different from 4G and 5G?

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Tech jargon can confuse users when buying a new mobile device. Terms like 4G, LTE, and 5G and their bands can get a little tricky for many of us to understand. Almost all the modern mobile devices offer at least one of these services. Some devices are dual-SIM and may offer two different types of services. These are different network technologies available in the market today, 5G being the latest. This article will clear all your confusions regarding the three technologies that are currently being used most widely by telecom operators in several countries and will help you decide which one you should prefer.

Long Term Evolution, or LTE in short, is more like the ‘S’ versions of iPhones and ‘T’ versions of OnePlus devices. It is a network technology which has additional/better features than the previous version of network technology — 4G. Though the improvements are not substantial enough that it can be released as a new generation altogether. It is an advanced version of 4G which meets the standards set by the ITU-Radiocommunication Sector.

Photo by Mika Baumeister

The network service providers have introduced a new network technology called 4G LTE-A (Long-Term Evolution Advanced) which promises to provide download speeds of up to 1Gbps. This speed is almost equivalent to the lower end of the speed offered by 5G networks but is still reasonably faster than 4G. Long-Term Evolution Advanced Pro is a more advanced version of LTE-A, and it provides even higher speeds.

How is LTE different from 4G?

In 2008, when the ITU Radiocommunication Sector announced new standards for 4G connectivity, many 4G cellular networks were not able to meet the high speed and hotspot standards. The ones that met these standards were called LTE and rest were called 4G. Thus, the 4G networks are slower than LTE. LTE also delivers lower latency than 4G. If you have an LTE connection, you can also use VoLTE for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones.

How is LTE different from 5G?

Photo by Ildefonso Polo

5G is the latest technology in network communication. It uses broader frequency bands than 4G or LTE that allows faster communication and provides better speeds at low latency. 4G or LTE base stations generally have 12 antennas to transmit and receive data whereas 5G base stations support up to 100 antennas.

Though 5G is the fastest of all, it is not stable currently. Many big manufacturers are rolling out new devices with 5G support too. However, 5G’s rollout will take a significant amount of time to cover substantial ground as the coverage of 5G network transmitters is low. That means, companies will have to put transmitters at frequent intervals to cover more area. Undoubtedly, the tech brings you data speeds that are unheard of, but since it requires a lot of infrastructure and telcos have to cover a lot more ground, you can expect a slow rollout.

Also read: What is 5G? What does the future of mobile internet look like?

Himanshu Nimje

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