Published on 2017-05-13
4G, 4GLTe, 3G, it can all get very confusing when you try to compare even the simplest of benefits they offer such as upload and download speeds. Let’s get rid of the confusion and look at whether you should be comparing LTE with 4G, or is there another approach.
4G stands for 4th generation, it’s the next step in mobile data technology after 3G. The 4G standard was defined by the ITU-R, the International Telecommunications Union, in 2008. They set peak speed requirements at 100 megabits per second for high mobility communication, for example from transport, and 1 Gigabit per second for low mobility communication such as walking or stationary.
When the standard was set in 2008 these speeds were unachievable. They were meant as a target for next generation technology, 4G, to aim for.
You probably assume, as most people do, that these speeds are now available because you have a 4G device and there are 4G networks available. It’s not that simple, let me explain.
LTE is the Long Term Evolution of the technology behind 4G wireless communication. You’ll see LTE used for marketing purposes alongside 4G and presented as 4GLTE. Its official full title is: 3GPP LTE. 3GPP stands for the 3rd Generation Partnership Project. Think of LTE as an ongoing project to achieve 4G standards, rather than a technology. LTE provides downlink peak rates of 300 Mbit/s, uplink peak rates of 75 Mbit/s.
Here’s what causes a lot of confusion, even though the speeds specified by the ITU-R for 4G are still largely unachievable it has been decided that LTE technology can use the term 4G. The decision was made due to the massive improvements LTE achieved compared to 3G technology.
As you will have seen, networks, phone companies, and marketers, pounced on this opportunity to call their LTE technology 4GLTE.
While everyone is asking, should I use LTE or 4G, maybe that’s not the question we should be asking. Will you experience faster download speeds with LTE or 4G? LTE may give you an advantage in some locations, but perhaps the real question should be: Will you see a noticeable difference when using 4GLTE compared to 3G? And the answer is a resounding yes.
The next question now is: Will the roll out of LTE Advanced offer worthwhile benefits, and we’ll answer that question in another post.