3G vs. 4G vs. LTE vs. 5G: All you need to know

We all use mobile connection and can successfully navigate the web, yet not so many of us realize the difference between terms like 3G, 4G, LTE, or 5G, which is quite an essential thing to understand. 

But why is it important to know that?  

We’ll answer that question before going into more detail. And also the question of how to improve cell reception in your house and office, in case you are experiencing low signal. 

So, without further ado, let’s do an overview of all types of mobile internet service and the differences between them. 

Why should I know this?

Because we all should be aware of the service we pay for, including all the pros and cons. Plus, if you want to switch to another provider, or get a device that can support 5G, for instance, it’s a good idea to know what 5G actually is and how it’s different from other types of connection. The same with 3G, 4G, and LTE. The last two are different from 3G, and if your provider promises you fast 4G/LTE internet, it won’t work properly if your device only supports 3G.

Thus, it’s high time to discuss the types of wireless signals and their differences. 

What is 3G?

The wireless telecommunications technology has had a few big waves, and one of them was 3G (Third Generation). 

What was before that? 

1G allowed only analog voice transmission on first cell phones in the 1980s. 2G came around with the 1990s, and it is the first digital voice transmission service, in other words, our mobile call service, that also allowed us to send text messages or SMS. 

Than 3G, or the 3rd Generation technology era, began and introduced a faster and more effective way to transmit information that could now handle thousands and millions of devices worldwide and give us access to the internet through our mobile phones, which was revolutionary.

What is 4G?

4G, or 4th Generation technology, surpassed 3G by a very large margin. In theory, 4G is 100 times faster than 3G. It allows faster data transmission and can handle a far larger subscriber base. 

What advantages did it introduce? It enabled us to watch high-definition mobile TV, faster and more effective video communications, etc. It’s the most commonly used type of communication network in the world, as most calls, texts, information transfers, and video calls are performed through 4G service. Soon enough, it will entirely phase out 3G, which can’t really stand the competition anymore. 

What is LTE?

LTE is something that sends people into a tailspin just because consumers can rarely differentiate between 4G and LTE services. And no wonder. LTE actually stands for Long-Term Evolution, and it was sort of a marketing trick to put 4G in front of it in order to make it more recognizable for the consumer. It is a big improvement on 3G, but not quite as good as true 4G. 

The pool of potential devices that need access to mobile services expands very rapidly, not to mention the expansion of the internet itself, so there’s a need for new technology to handle that amount of data successfully. That’s where 5G starts to sound very promising. 

What is 5G?

There’s much speculation, and frankly, controversy lately around the 5G technology, so let’s clear the air, and hopefully answer some question you might be having about it. 

First of all, 5G is going to be way faster than any connection we’ve experienced before. And by ‘faster,’ we mean streaming 4K quality videos without buffering. If downloading files took minutes with 4G, it would take a few seconds with 5G. So, in short, 5G is 5th Generation technology that can handle significantly more devices (around 24 billion expected in 2025), transmit much more data much faster than before, and bring us closer to the possibility of a new technological revolution. 

What is the Difference Between 3G and 4G?

We have brushed over the difference already, but let’s be more specific:

  • Speed: 4G is a vast improvement on 3G speed-wise. 3G can manage a transmission speed of 8Mbps, while 4G allows 50Mbps with the potential to get to 100Mbps. 
  • Transmission: 4G allows you to transmit vast volumes of video information, which 3G does not, and introduces the possibility for high-definition mobile TV. 

What is the Difference Between 4G/LTE and 5G?

Again let’s do it point by point:

  • Speed: As the main point of differentiation of data transmission speed is crucial for our communications and economics and technology in general. 4G and LTE networks, as we mentioned, are capable of transmission at approximately 50Mbps, whereas 5G promises us 10Gbps, which is phenomenal as of today. 
  • Future possibilities: Thanks to its unprecedented speed, 5G opens up exciting possibilities for future technology development and economics.
  • The number of devices supported:  The estimation is that closer to 2025, the world will have 24 billion devices in need of connection, and while the 4G network is not fit to handle that number of subscribers, 5G will be up for the challenge. 

Health concerns

Any wireless technology uses radio waves to transmit information, so we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic radiation from different sources. Whether they are cancerogenic or not is still a subject of research, due to the difficulty of obtaining conclusive evidence. 

There’s been a lot of speculation online about the health hazards of 5G towers and the frequencies this network is going to use. The truth is, while most of this information is pseudoscience and frankly fraudulent, there is still not enough real research to back up any scientific theory. Research is still being conducted in different countries, so hopefully, we’ll find out more soon.

How to check the network coverage on different devices?

Suppose you are traveling to a different area and need coverage information. In that case, it is widely available online, and you can also download apps that will do the work for you by simply showing you the ‘dead spots’, as well as the areas where the connection is best. 

How Can I Improve My 3G, 4G, LTE Signal?

There are different ways to improve your signal, depending on the reason for it being weak.

  • Device malfunction. If the reason is internal, you can try updating the system, cleaning up the device, i.e., deleting and uninstalling everything you have no use for, or reconnecting to the network manually. 
  • A weak signal from the tower. This can mean that either your provider is having trouble with a particular tower near you, in which case there’s not much you can do anyway, or you are located too far from the tower. If this is the case, your best option is to install a signal booster that will provide a stronger signal over the area of your house, or office, thus freeing you from the necessity of running to the window each time you need to take a call or video chat.  

The world of wireless networks can be confusing at times, but keep in mind that you can always find the information you need from trusted sources and be more prepared in case you need to switch providers or simply learn about newly available service. Good luck, and stay connected! 

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