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Difference Between LTE and 4G

LTE vs 4G

The transition from first generation (1G), to second generation (2G), then finally to third generation (3G) mobile phone technologies is quite distinctly demarcated, and we clearly see which phones belong to each generation. With the move to the fourth generation (4G), there are a lot of new emerging technologies and a lot more confusion on which one is 4G and which one is not. It is better to see the differences between 4G and one of the emerging technologies like LTE (3GPP Long-Term Evolution). For starters, 4G is a technology standard while LTE is an actual technology. LTE needs to pass the 4G standards in order to be qualified as a 4G technology.

LTE defines how the data is to be encoded and transmitted from one point to another in the cellular network. In contrast, 4G does not actually define the things that the technology has to do. It simply defines what needs to be achieved. In order to pass as a true 4G, any technology needs to achieve stationary speeds of 1Gbit/s and mobile speeds of 100Mbit/s. There are more technical specifications, but these two are enough to distinguish 4G from non-4G technologies.

LTE is only capable of 100Mbit/s maximum; therefore, falling very far from the intended goal. Actually, LTE is actually grouped along with other technologies like WiMax as sub-4G technologies; often referred to as 3.9G or 3.5G. A newer version of LTE, called LTE Advanced, is expected to exceed the 4G standards and is a leading candidate for 4G certification.

The question now is why are there so many mobile phones and telecoms flaunting 4G when the technology doesn’t really exist yet? The answer to this is marketing. With many telecoms competing for limited users, they need to come up with ways to entice users. Marketing a 3.9G technology isn’t really as catchy as marketing 4G. Because of that, many of the telecoms upgraded their networks to LTE then flaunted having a 4G network even if it was not true. The fact is, it may take a couple more years before we can actually experience a true 4G technology.


1.4G is a technology standard while LTE is one technology that aspires to be 4G.
2.4G specifies performance while LTE defines how the performance is achieved.
3.Many of today’s 4G-branded products and services, including LTE, actually aren’t 4G.

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