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4G LTE vs. 5G: How do they compare?

Skyview of a city's crossroad with cars waiting at a stoplight.

Current 4G LTE (long-term evolution) networks are built on the fourth generation of mobile network technology. These networks use the same radio frequencies as 3G networks, meaning they rely on lower frequency radio waves. This means 4G LTE networks are not as fast as next-generation 5G networks, and they have higher latency.

However, 4G LTE networks still offer some benefits when it comes to cost and current availability compared to 5G’s higher bands. These networks are well-suited to users who don’t currently need high speed or low latency, just a reliable connection and a low price point.

5G’s speed over other wireless networks, its low latency, and real-time communication capabilities make it an ideal choice for connected devices that demand quick, millisecond-level responses, such as self-driving cars, virtual reality, and other similar applications. This means 5G technology promises to revolutionize how we use the internet, and it has the potential to revolutionize how we use the internet of things (IoT). As a result, once 5G’s higher bands finish their rollout period, businesses will definitely want to start looking into upgrading.

5G is a revolutionary technology

5G’s main differentiator from 4G LTE is its speed and lower latency.

5G networks are built on a new radio technology (5G NR) that uses high-frequency radio waves to deliver faster speeds, lower latency, higher bandwidth, and more reliable broadband than 4G LTE networks. The use of high-frequency radio waves allows 5G networks to deliver exponentially higher download speeds reaching up to 20 Gbps vs. 4G speeds of 100 Mbps.

In addition to the new radio technology, 5G networks also rely on established 4G towers for basic coverage and small cells for their higher bands, which are small base stations often located in urban areas. These small cells are designed to provide 5G coverage in areas where traditional 4G cell towers would not be effective.

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5G benefits: High-power, cost-effective coverage

5G networks also require less power. This makes 5G networks more cost-effective for providers to operate, and it also allows them to provide coverage in more places.

There are also advantages in network availability, as 5G networks have greater network capacity and coverage. More people can connect to the network at the same time without any decrease in performance. And the small cells 5G relies on also enable network coverage in rural areas where previously there was none, due to their ability to be placed in any location to act as base stations.

Different 5G types cover all use cases

The applications and benefits of 5G are almost limitless due to the exponential difference in 5G’s speed and capacity compared to previous generations of networking technology. There are three types of 5G, each of which is best suited to different use cases:

  1. High-band 5G, also referred to as millimeter wave or mm-wave, uses high-frequency bands, typically between 24 GHz and 52 GHz, to deliver ultra-fast download speeds. It offers the fastest data rates, but generally only covers short distances.
  2. Mid-band 5G uses frequencies between 3 GHz and 24 GHz, offering better coverage and improved latency over high-band 5G. This type of 5G is the preferred option for most telecoms, as it offers a good balance between speed and coverage.
  3. Low-band 5G uses frequencies below 1 GHz. It offers the best coverage, with speeds comparable to those of 4G LTE, and is the most popular 5G option for carriers in the United States.

5G offers opportunities across verticals

The three varieties of 5G make it applicable to a broad variety of verticals, both for enhancing current operations and enabling new opportunities.

For example:

  • Automotive: 5G is expected to revolutionize the automotive industry by providing faster and more reliable connections for self-driving cars, improved navigation, and real-time traffic updates.
  • Healthcare: 5G will enable healthcare providers to transmit high-resolution images and vital signs quickly, improving the accuracy and speed of diagnosis.
  • Retail: 5G will enable faster checkout, improved inventory tracking, and real-time location-based marketing.
  • Manufacturing: 5G will enable higher precision, more automation, and faster communication between machines in the manufacturing process.
  • Education: 5G will allow for more interactive and immersive learning experiences, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
  • Agriculture: 5G will enable more precise farming techniques, such as automated irrigation, soil monitoring, and crop monitoring.

Inseego helps you take advantage of 5G

Overall, 5G networks offer a significant upgrade over 4G LTE networks, and they have the potential to revolutionize the way we use the internet, our mobile devices, and IoT devices across multiple industries.

But to do so, enterprises will need devices that allow them to leverage the right type of 5G for their operation. Rural enterprises may want to take advantage of low-band 5G using wireless cellular routers. Indoor, urban enterprises may want to look at fixed wireless devices that allow easy deployment of high-power 5G wherever it's needed.

Contact us today to learn about which devices would most benefit your business.

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