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Difference Between 4G Network and 5G Network

4G Network vs 5G Network

Discussing 4G and 5G networks is a bit premature given that these two are not really here yet. This is a case of the hype being faster than reality. If you think that it may be a good idea to skip 4G and go straight with 5G, don’t hold your breath; as 4G would probably be widespread in a couple of years but 5G won’t be existent for another decade or so. Mobile WiMax and LTE, which the telcos are so eager to call 4G, do not really fulfill the requirements to qualify as a 4G technology.

4G networks, according to the requirements, should be able to achieve 100Mbit/s on mobile or 1Gbit/s on stationary applications. Since 5G would succeed 4G, it is a given that it should be much faster. By how much, is not really written in stone just yet. The peak download rates of WiMax and LTE are 128Mbit/s and 100Mbit/s and fall far short of the 1Gbit/s that should be achieved by LTE Advanced; a true 4G technology.

As already stated, nothing is fixed about 5G yet but if the ideas being thrown around would be incorporated, 5G would be significantly better. Instead of the terrestrial base stations that are being used by 2G, 3G, and soon by 4G, 5G would be using HAPS or High Altitude Stratospheric Platform Stations. These are basically aircrafts that fly in stationary positions anywhere between 17km and 22km from the earth’s surface and acting like a satellite providing coverage. This would provide a more direct path for the signal and reducing the blocking effect caused by tall structures. Also, because of the height, the base station is able to cover a much wider area; thus reducing, if not eliminating, out of coverage area problems. Even at sea, where land based towers would not be able to reach, coverage could still be available.

If all this sounds too futuristic, it’s because it is. Keep in mind that 4G technologies would also sound too futuristic a decade ago. For now, let’s just be content with 3G and 3.9G (the proper name for LTE and WiMax) networks.


1. 4G networks are almost here while 5G networks are roughly 10 years from reality
2. 4G networks would be slower than 5G networks
3. 4G networks rely on terrestrial base stations while 5G networks wont
4. 4G network coverage would still be problematic but 5G networks won’t be

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