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What is the Difference Between 3G, 4G, and LTE?

Mar 1, 2017
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What is the Difference Between 3G, 4G, and LTE

What is 3G?

The first thing to establish is what that G means. It is nothing fancy, it simply stands for the generation of the cell phone network specifics like speed and coverage. You’ll always be able to know which is the newest by the number in front of it, so 3G is the third generation of cell phone coverage. The first two weren’t nearly as popular, so the G trend started with 3.

Each cellular provider has different 3G networks that provides coverage in a certain area. To be even more specific, there are two kinds of 3G technologies, there is Global System for Mobiles, and Code Division Multiple Access. The type of 3G that you get will heavily depend upon which carrier you have. Historically, AT&T and T-Mobile have used the GSM type of 3G, while Verizon and Sprint have gone with the CDMA technology. These different kinds of technologies are not compatible with one another, which is typically why you cannot use a Verizon phone an AT&T Network.

3G was the first generation of network that was capable of providing decent speeds for smart phones. 3G had a lot to hold up to because it had to be able to maintain millions of people streaming and sending data constantly. 3G came about in the early 2000s and changed the entire game. Despite the fact that 4G has already came out and been adopted as the standard, every provider still supports 3G data. This is the reason that when you are in certain zones that do not have 4G connection, you still see 3G data on your phone. You can instantly tell the difference when the type of connection that you have is changed because the data is just slower to send and receive.

What is 4G?

4G is obviously the fourth generation of network connections and came after 3G. 4G is infinitely faster than 3G and comes in different versions like 3G. The two most common types of 4G are 4G and 4G LTE. Someone who talks about 4G without saying LTE, is most likely talking about a High Speed Packet Access network, which has been named what we know as 4G.

The 4G network is the upgraded version of 3G. Cellphone companies realized that they needed to step up their data limits so people could stream and download data at a much faster rate. The difference from 3G to 4G is about five times the speed. LTE is still relatively new, so the cellphone providers still haven’t gotten the coverage down to everywhere that 3G is available.

Come cellphone companies will often times offer all around nationwide 4G coverage. Now, this isn’t completely true, because 4G LTE is what should be called actual 4G, while regular 4G is just an upgraded 3G that has been renamed the HSPA network. Now this isn’t a bad network, one would be able to stream Netflix or download anything without any issue. The real difference would be with more than 10 MBS of data, that is when 4G LTE would be the superior choice.

4G was also released in the hopes that any devices that come out would instantly be available and accessible. For example, you might notice that almost no iPads or smart watches are typically connected to 3G, and the reason is because they just aren’t efficient or compatible. Not this isn’t always the case, but it is most certainly the norm.

What is LTE?

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. This is basically the upgraded form of 4G and provides a true 4G experience. LTE has the capability of being up to ten times faster than the standard 3G and 4G networks, but it is not always used to its potential. LTE was made for people who are streaming large amounts of data and using a lot of bandwidth. LTE has a much better infrastructure than regular 4G and 3G and has been known to provide a steadier service. The average download speed of the LTE network was about 31 MBPS, while 4G came in at around 8. The last thing to know about LTE is that it will send signals from your phone to the tower much faster than the other services. This is the reason that you will have a better experience while you are browsing the web or streaming while on LTE.

Not all phones support LTE, so it is important to look at your options and know what is available to you when you purchase a new phone. Any iPhone prior to the iPhone 5 will not support LTE, so if you are looking for a new iPhone, the newer ones will always be able to connect to the newer networks. It isn’t certain what the next generation of mobile networking will be, but all of the phones that have been released within the past year or two will almost definitely be capable of connecting to it.

Do not be fooled when networks are advertising their services. If a provider promises nationwide 4G coverage, it does not necessarily mean that 4G LTE is available everywhere. You will want to make sure to do your own research to determine whether or not they have reputable service. In the United States, the (arguably) best service for cities is Verizon. However, if you are in more suburbs, you might be better off going with Sprint. It all depends on what provider has been the most into their network infrastructure in your area. If you are in a heavily populated area, odds are all of the networks will have decent coverage. Its when you go outside of the cities that you will need to check around and see what provider will have the best coverage.