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4G vs LTE: Understanding the Difference Between 4G and LTE

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Even with new 5G networks becoming available, the majority of people continue to use 4G and LTE because of their greater accessibility across the globe. Despite the networks being used interchangeably, there is actually a significant difference between 4G and LTE. The distinction lies in the performance of these networks and the internet speed. This article will analyse the 4G and LTE networks, their main differences and similarities, and finally find out what’s better, 4G or LTE. 

What is 4G?

The history of 4G stems from the new standards issued by the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) in 2008 that had forced mobile networks to upgrade the speed to at least 100 megabits per second. At the time, this number was unattainable, but the new standard was meant to inspire developers to deliver on better technology. A few years later, the technology caught up to the standards, and most carriers made a switch to the 4G network. 

What made 4G stand out from previous technology was the shift from the spread spectrum radio technology to OFDMA multi-carrier transmission. This enabled far higher upload and download speeds, and access to a broader range of services such as gaming, video, social media, etc. 

What is LTE?

First, what does LTE stand for? LTE or Long-Term Evolution bridged the gap between the unattainable new standards from ITU-R and the reality. LTE acted as an improvement of its predecessor, 3G, but did not fulfil the requirements of becoming the next generation or 4G in this case. It delivered a better experience for the users and helped mobile networks advertise 4G speeds without having the technology available. 

Sometimes LTE would be referred to as 4G LTE, which makes users think like they are using 4G, but in reality, it is still the LTE technology. Although it has caused and continues to cause confusion, LTE was a significant upgrade from the 3G technology. 

The distinction of 4G vs LTE becomes even more confusing when LTE-A (Long-Term Evolution Advanced) has emerged. In 2011, LTE-A was finally standardised and was made available to the broad public. The technology is faster, more reliable and stable and provides higher bandwidth compared to regular LTE. Being the closest technology to 4G at the time, LTE-A allowed two to three times higher speed than LTE. 

What is the Difference Between LTE and 4G?

So what is the difference between LTE and 4G, and how does it affect your experience as a user? Is 4G faster than LTE, is it more stable, what other pros and cons are there to using one or the other?

As mentioned above, the distinction may be confusing at times, and with newer releases like LTE-A, it becomes barely noticeable. Let’s investigate what exactly makes 4G stand out from its predecessors and go over a few differences between LTE versus 4G.

Speed

Let’s try to answer the most important question right away: LTE vs 4G, which is faster? If we talk about the original LTE, 4G is significantly faster. 4G is significantly faster. LTE offers only 100 Mbps, while true 4G offers up to 1,000 Mbps. However, if we take a look at the LTE-A speeds, the difference disappears as it also offers 1,000 Mbps. As a result, there is no clear answer as it depends on which technology you are using, LTE or LTE-A. Since most networks offer LTE-A, the majority of users enjoy the high upload and download speeds. 

Coverage

When it comes to coverage, is LTE the same as 4G, or is there a difference when it comes to coverage? A release of new technology does not necessarily make it immediately available to everyone. We can observe that with the recent 5G release. Even though the technology is there, most people do not have access to it due to older devices that do not support the 5G technology. 

The same happened to 4G, which was not supported by many smartphones, which prevented users from using it. LTE service is widespread and accessible via most modern devices, whereas 4G still remains unusable to some people. 

Latency

Latency refers to delays when data makes its way to its destination across the network and back again. Latency prevents data from flowing and going in the right direction, leading to a decrease in bandwidth. 

So, is 4G better than LTE when it comes to latency? In fact, it is, and the discrepancy is quite large. 4G offers a latency of 5 milliseconds compared to LTE’s 10 milliseconds. It may not seem like a big deal considering we are talking about milliseconds, but it does become crucial when users play video games, stream clips or have a video call. 

Signal strength

Which network offers a stronger mobile signal, LTE or 4G? Due to elevated upload and download speed and reduced latency, 4G networks provide a much better quality of voice and video calls than LTE. 4G users enjoy stable and uninterrupted internet access and can play games, watch video streams and have video calls with their friends, family, and colleagues. 

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Data usage

Another argument in the LTE vs 4G comparison is the data usage. Does the latter use more data to offer internet access? It is a common misconception that makes sense but is largely misunderstood. A network cannot use more or less data than another network, but it can allow access to more functions online, leading to higher data usage. 

4G network allows its users to watch videos and play games, which wasn’t possible with previous technologies. As a result, people spend more time online and use up more mobile data. However, if you perform the same activities online and, for example, download a 20MB file using either network, you will consume 20MB regardless. The only difference will be how long it takes to download the file to your device. 

With the abundance of networks like 4G, LTE-A, 5G, and LTE, it is challenging to keep up with and understand their differences. And some areas do not have access to the latest technologies, which deprives them of fast internet connection. To boost your signal or instal a private 5G network, contact our experts at UCTel. We offer a wide range of services for business digitalisation and fast communication. 

LTE vs 4G: Which is Faster and Better?

The confusion brought up by companies calling LTE 4G and by the LTE-advanced technology still exists. So what’s the difference between 4G and LTE, and is 4G or LTE better? In short, 4G offers a much faster speed, more stability and access to a larger variety of online activities. LTE is a half-point between 3G and 4G, so its performance suffers compared to the fourth generation. 

However, it is said that unless you reside in a large and heavily populated city, you might not even notice the difference in 4G versus LTE. And with LTE-A bridging the gap and hugely increasing the quality of connection, the difference becomes even less important. 

Final Thoughts

In the end, all the networks continue to coexist and are available to people across the world. 3G, LTE, and 4G are all accessible with the right device and location. With the rising presence of 5G, this technology is gaining importance as its performance supersedes any deliverables of previous networks. 

In the meantime, you can always opt in for a mobile signal booster to improve the internet connection quality at your household or office. Get in touch with professionals from UCTel to learn more about 4G or LTE, improving your signal and entering a new digital age with private 5G networks. 

Still have questions

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Why does my phone say LTE instead of 4G?

The network your phone connects to depends on the mobile carrier, the device itself, and your location. Some carriers do not support “true 4G” and offer LTE and LTE-A instead. Some devices cannot connect to 4G due to limited functions. Finally, in particular areas around the globe, you will be connected to LTE instead of 4G because the cell tower that supports LTE is closer and provides higher speed.

Is 4G the same as LTE?

Despite frequent confusion, 4G and LTE networks are not the same. LTE came out before 4G to offer a slightly better speed and performance than its predecessor, 3G. Later, LTE-A emerged and delivered an even higher performance, which is almost as good as the real 4G. However, 4G performance indicators demonstrate the higher connection quality, reduced latency, and better speed.

Does 4G drain more data than LTE?

The short answer is simple: no. However, when you use 4G and gain access to a faster and more reliable connection, you might end up spending more time online and using up more data. 4G allows for watching videos in HD, playing games and having video calls in high quality, which usually incentivises people to use more internet.

Is LTE better than 4G?

LTE is the half point technology between 3G and 4G, so it is not better or faster than 4G. It is an upgrade from 3G and does offer a much better experience to users, but 4G performance is superior.

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