4G vs. LTE vs. 5G: What’s the Difference, and Why Should You Care?
Phone carriers love to throw around nonsense terms all the time. You’ve heard them. 4G, 4G LTE, 4G LTE-A, 5G. But what do they actually mean? We’re here to give you the information to make informed decisions when it comes to your cellular purchases and not be confused by all the jargon these companies use to try and confuse you.
What is 4G?
4G, short for “Fourth Generation,” is a specification laid down by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2008. It stipulated a minimum specification of 100 Mbps download speed, which, at the time, was extremely hypothetical. In fact, carrier networks today are only just now realizing these aims, many years later.
Since there was such an enormous gap between the old 3G standard and the new 4G, companies wanted to make sure their customer base knew they were receiving better service than just the same old 3G, so they came up with a workaround. Enter LTE.
What is LTE and What Does LTE Stand For?
LTE stands for “Long Term Evolution” and is a marketing phrase to signify progression toward true 4G. So when someone says 4G LTE, they are actually talking about something weaker than true 4G, but better than simple 3G.
In other words, it’s an upgraded 3G, but worse than true 4G. As there is no true standard for LTE, it covers the entire range of minimum download speeds from 3G’s 20 Mbps to 4G’s 100 Mbps, giving it a massive range of potential speeds.
The worst part is, now that companies have actually attained 4G speeds, they don’t want to advertise it. Most consumers believe 4G LTE to be an advanced version of 4G, instead of what it really is. Hence the term 4G LTE-A (which is really just 4G). This is the fastest option available on the market in 2019.
What is 5G?
5G is the next generation of standards laid out by the ITU, and looks to be following a similar trajectory to what 4G did. Phone manufacturers are just now coming out with 5G compatible phones, but carrier networks are nowhere near the minimum 1 Gbps with 1 millisecond of latency required for the standard. As we said, they are just now approaching 4G specifications!
But because of people’s awareness of 5G, companies are trying to upsell their existing networks already, with AT&T calling their 4G network “5Ge” despite it not coming close to 5G standards.
Where you’re most likely to see something approaching 5G is in the field of home internet, which can theoretically broadcast 5G signal over the air to your home devices.
4G vs. 5G and How LTE Figures In
Can the average consumer tell the difference between 4G and LTE? At this point, the gap is slim, especially with 4G LTE-A being more or less “true” 4G.
When you’re looking to buy a phone and want the best speeds possible, make sure it’s 4G LTE-A compatible. Under optimal signal conditions, you should see minimum speeds of 100 Mbps - this ensures you are getting true 4G. Maximum 4G speeds cap out at 1000 Mbps down, and 500 Mbps up, so if you get anything approaching these speeds, you are on the true cutting edge, even though the specs were laid down over a decade ago.
How May We Help You?
Wilson Amplifiers is the leading provider of cell phone signal boosters. Cell phone boosters amplify 3G & 4G LTE for any phone with any carrier for home, office, or vehicle.
We seriously hate dropped calls and poor coverage, so it's our goal in life to stomp on spotty signal like the little roaches they are:
- Free consultation (ask us anything) with our US-based customer support (email@example.com) or call us at 1-800-568-2723.
- Free shipping.
- Better signal or industry-leading 90 money-back guaranteed. No questions asked.
- We want everyone to be satisfied, so we provide lifetime technical support and a 2-year warranty for all products.
Ask us anything and we'll be glad to help.