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What's the Difference Between 3G, 4G, and 5G?

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Technology allows us to stay connected, provides unhindered access to information, makes our lives easier, and opens up incredible opportunities. Communication standards are rapidly moving to new levels of technical solutions and have led to new opportunities far beyond traditional communication.

There are several levels of communication. The standards are 3G, 4G, and 5G, where the letter “G” stands for Generation and forms their chronology. The difference between 3G and 4G and 5G is primarily in the data transfer rate.

It all started with the 1G standard, and then the technology has gradually improved. Today, 5G is introduced globally, with a complete transition planned by 2030-2035. In the meantime, scientists have already developed technical documentation with the alleged capabilities and features of the 6G standard, but its appearance has not yet been announced.The relevance and importance of this lie in the fact that the development of communication standards is one of the defining milestones of global technological progress because the capabilities of all automated systems depend on the speed and reliability of data exchange. So, let’s find out what’s the difference between 3G, 4G, and 5G.

What is 3G?

3G is the third generation of mobile telecommunications technology, which runs on signals being passed between phone towers. Your mobile phone sends and receives information from the tower nearest to you via a network managed by your mobile phone provider (Three, O2, Vodafone or EE in the UK) — that’s how you can make and receive calls and access mobile internet.

3G is an evolution of the previous 2G technology. The key differences in the technologies are top speed data transmission, access to multimedia services and seamless roaming. Third-generation mobile communications are based on packet data transmission.

The globalisation process, which began in the second generation of mobile communication systems, has transformed and transitioned to 3G networks. The first commercial 3G network was in 2001 in Japan, and in the UK the first 3G network was launched in 2003.

An important factor that led to the transition to 3G networks is a more efficient use of channel resources and an increase in the operating frequency range (400 MHz — 3 GHz). Therefore, it became possible to provide services to a larger number of subscribers with better quality. Among the features and characteristics of this communication standard are the following:

  • speed of up to 2 Mbps;
  • increased bandwidth and data transfer rates;
  • send/receive large email messages;
  • large capacities and broadband capabilities.

What is 4G and the Difference Compared to 3G

4G has become the next-generation standard for mobile networks. These IP-based networks were developed in 2000 and introduced in many countries since 2010. The key difference between 3G and 4G is that the new technology is about three times faster than 3G and can support many more users. That is why all major UK telecom operators immediately adopted 4G.

What is the difference between 3G and 4G? Mostly, it’s the speed. Here is how it affects the end-users:

  • the 3G network does not allow watching movies and videos in high quality, and with 4G, it is easy to do;
  • 3G has data rate limits, and 4G network provides high-speed Internet to the user;
  • within 3G, many Internet services do not work correctly, while 4G does not have such problems.

These are only the outtakes from comparing the 3G and 4G technology. The new communication standard provides almost unlimited possibilities when connecting to the Internet.

Thus, the move from a 3G network to 4G heralded higher, more reliable and optimised data transfers. 4G allows people to stream movies and songs, make video calls and play online computer games without experiencing lag. It also enabled users to use their mobile phones as a useful personal hotspot for their laptops or other devices while they are out and about.

What is 5G and the Difference Compared to 4G

5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for mobile networks set to deliver even higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability and higher bandwidth than 4G. However, this is not the only difference between 5G and 4G. 5G is an improved 4G standard, implying the same combination of different technologies and the possibility of transforming entire infrastructures. Moreover, the new standard is much better, and all current service capabilities will become more reliable and faster. In the UK, 5G coverage has been available since 2019.

So, how is 5G different from 4G? One of the main parameters is the transmission speed: 5G is about 20 times faster than 4G. Another significant difference between 5G and 4G is the ability to serve many more client devices. The new standard allows reaching up to a million customers in an area of ​​1 km². Another major 5G VS 4G difference is that 5G operates in a different radio frequency band than 4G, which is precisely what allows for revolutionary improvements in network performance. While 4G operates at frequencies lower than 6 GHz, the 5G standard uses frequencies in the 30—300 GHz range.

What is the difference between 4G and 5G, and how is it significant? To put it in perspective, the 5G standard is necessary for the large-scale functioning of the Internet of Things (IoT). It connects various devices to the Internet (from self-driving cars to "smart" electric kettles), introduces remote control of vehicles, improves medicine, industry, science, technology and all other areas without exception.

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3G vs 4G vs 5G Comparison Table

Comparison3G4G5G
Introduced in year200120092018
TechnologyWCDMALTE, WiMAXMIMO, mm Waves
Access systemCDMACDMAOFDM, BDMA
Switching typePacket switching except for air interferencePacket switchingPacket switching
Internet serviceBroadbandUltra-broadbandWireless World Wide Web
Bandwidth25 MHz100 MHz30 GHz to 300 GHz
AdvantageHigh security, international roamingSpeed, high-speed handoffs, global mobilityExtremely high speeds, low latency
ApplicationsVideo conferencing, mobile TV, GPSHigh-speed apps, mobile TV, wearable devicesHigh-resolution video streaming, remote control of vehicles, robots, medical procedures

What are the Benefits of 5G?

5G is fast. Really fast. Mobile phone users will be able to stream 4K video in seconds, with speeds that some predict will be up to 100 times faster than 4G. And this is not the only advantage and difference between 4G and 5G. It also has the potential to offer much lower latency — making it possible to control devices remotely in near real-time — and greater bandwidth, so it can support more devices at once.

So, what’s the difference between 4G and 5G for businesses and users? Business owners are excited about this for many reasons (IoT devices that rely on rapid data transfer being a big one). But for regular mobile phone users, the focus will be fast downloads and data exchange, even in high-density areas such as a busy factory, hospital or office.

Contact the team to discover how UCtel can improve your digital connectivity and communications. Get started

My facility doesn’t seem to get any signal at all — what can I do?

Cel-Fi is an Ofcom-compliant mobile phone signal booster that extends coverage of mobile networks across your building. It works in three steps: obtaining a signal via a donor antenna wherever it is the strongest, amplifying that signal with a network unit, and distributing this signal throughout the building using internal antenna units.

Cel-Fi is easy-to-install, versatile and authorised by 200 carriers globally. It’s suitable for all kinds of buildings — hospitals, warehouses, hotels, offices, retail units, and so on. Best of all, it’s fully compatible with 3G, 4G, and 5G networks, giving staff and visitors the best possible experience.

Although there is a massive difference between 3G, 4G, and 5G, no matter what technology standard and mobile network operator you are dealing with, UCtel always has a solution for you.

Our team offers advanced solutions to customers based on needs identification and product comparison. We enable you and your business to embrace digital technology, stay connected and join the future. Our effective solutions include in-building mobile solutions, private 5G networks, unified communications and contact centres, next-generation technologies.

Do you constantly struggle with bad mobile phone signal in your building? The friendly team at UCtel can help with that. All we require is a floor plan, and we’ll propose and install a tailor-made solution to boost mobile phone coverage across your entire facility.

Final Thoughts

The comparison of 3G, 4G and 5G allows us to highlight each technology’s characteristics and advantages. Analysis of differences between 4G and 5G lets us understand why each subsequent standard is faster, more reliable, and more powerful than the previous one.

UCtel provides improved communication and high-performing connectivity for everyone. We offer innovative solutions for each client, transform the digital infrastructure of businesses, and move global enterprises into the digital age.

UCtel connects people, networks, clouds and apps with next-generation technologies. Contact us by emailing us at sales@uctel.co.uk or call us on 03333444417. Discover the best connection today.

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What is the difference between 4G and 3G?

4G is about three times faster than 3G, and the new technology can support many more users. The main 3G VS 4G difference is the speed: the fourth generation network allows you to watch movies and videos in high quality, provides the user with high-speed Internet and ensures the correct operation of all Internet services. 4G technology offers quicker, more reliable, and optimised data transmission.

How much better is 5G than 4G?

The 5G standard is more advanced, extended, and improved than its predecessors. With it, communication becomes more reliable and faster. The main 4G VS 5G difference is that the next level of communication delivers exceptionally high multi-Gbps peak data speeds (5G is about 20 times faster than 4G), ultra-low latency, more reliability and higher bandwidth than 4G (30—300 GHz compared to 100 MHz).

How much better is the performance of 5G than 3G?

3G was introduced in 2001, and 5G appeared in 2018. 3G is based on CDMA and 5G – on OFDM, BDMA. 3G uses WCDMA technology, while 5G uses MIMO and mm Waves. The bandwidth of the 3G standard is 25 MHz, and the bandwidth of 5G is 30—300 GHz. The key benefits of 3G technology are high security and international roaming, while the main advantages of 5G are incredibly high speeds and low latency.

Contact the team to discover how UCtel can improve your digital connectivity and communications.

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