4G LTE, or fourth-generation long term evolution, sometimes is referred to as “the gold standard of wireless technology,” thanks to its ability to deliver both speed and power in more places of the world. Specifically, 4G stands for the fourth generation of data technology for cellular networks, as defined by the radio sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R). 4G follows 3G, or the third generation.
In March 2008, the ITU-R set standards for 4G connectivity, stating that all 4G services must adhere to a specified set of speed and connection standards. Connection speeds for mobile use must have a peak of at least 100 megabits/second while mobile hotspots must have at least 1 gigabit/second.
LTE means Long Term Evolution, or the highly technical process involved in high-speed data for smartphones and mobile devices, which most of us think of as wireless broadband speeds that meet our increasing wireless demands. LTE came about because the 4G standards set forth were a bit far reaching; in other words, the existing technology could not live up to the 4G standards, so the ITU-R agreed that the term LTE could be given to the technology that is put in place as networks pursue the 4G standards. Today, 4G LTE is the fastest connection available for wireless networks.
Challenges of 4G LTE
4G LTE is noticeably faster than 3G. However, for people not living in major metropolitan areas, it can be difficult to receive 4G LTE service. And, while some networks offer LTE and others are new 4G networks, users won’t necessarily notice a difference in upload or download speeds between the two.
Regardless of the network offering LTE or 4G services, they must package and send data so that all network points can interpret it. Older networks utilize circuit-switching technology, which establishes a connection directly to the target through the network so the entire connection occurs through that connection. That’s why users of older networks that utilize only circuit-switching technologies must reconnect if a call drops. On the other hand, newer networks utilize packet-switching technology that takes advantage of a greater number of connected points around the world. Packet-switching networks break up information into small chunks and send them along the most efficient path, so when a node drops out, the packet finds an alternate route and users don’t suffer dropped calls.
To solve the circuit-switching versus packet-switching challenge with 4G LTE, mobile carriers are using a combination of the two network types. Voice networks traditionally used circuit-switching technology. They do this by allowing the phone to rely on circuit-switching standards for calls, but to use packet-switching communication for data.
Advantages of 4G LTE
4G LTE is the most advanced network when referring to speed. 4G LTE networks can download data anywhere from 5 to 12 megabits per second, which allows for smooth streaming of live video and better response times for multiplayer online games. When 4G LTE networks are optimized, users stream music and video, upload and download content, and more on their smartphones and tablets as quickly as they do with at-home broadband connections. It’s important to keep in mind that the 4G LTE speeds are achieved when the carrier and coverage area are optimized.
Because of 4G LTE’s speed, application developers have created better mobile user experiences for everything from gaming and socializing to shopping and watching videos. Live video chats are the norm with 4G LTE, and people are using their mobile devices more now than ever before, thanks to the speed delivered by 4G LTE. In fact, some of the latest data shows that mobile digital media time in the United Sates is now at 51%, compared to desktop at 42%. Additionally, 80% of smartphone owners use their phone to conduct Internet searches. As 4G LTE becomes even faster, more users are taking advantage of the speed and using their smartphones for far more than talking.
4G LTE is improving people’s lives. As carriers continue to work to improve 4G LTE, we can only imagine what lies ahead for mobile users.