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Blogs by Trenton Systems

4G vs LTE vs 5G: What's the Difference?

4G vs LTE vs 5G

As more data becomes available on a daily basis, networking technology must be equipped to handle the complex, demanding workloads that result from this change. 

In this blog, you'll learn more about the differences between 4G, LTE, and 5G, and how Trenton's solutions utilize 5G technology to enhance connectivity and compute power at the edge. 

What is 4G? 

4G, or Fourth Generation, is the fourth iteration in a line of mobile networks; it is also a standard set by the radio communication sector of the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) in 2008. 

4G is noted for its broadband capabilities and speeds that are much faster than the previous generation, 3G, which introduced connection-based networks into the technological ecosystem. 

There are five generations of mobile networks: 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, with 1G networks now obsolete. Each new network offers improvements over the previous generation, primarily as it relates to data transfer speeds. 

6G research started in 2020. The framework is set to be completed by 2028, and it is expected to launch commercially in 2030. 

How fast is 4G? 

For networks to truly be classified as 4G, they must have a minimum data transfer speed of 100 Mbps (megabits per second). Speeds can go as high as 1000 Mbps down and 500 Mbps up. 

In addition, 4G has a frequency (wavelength) of under 6 GHz (gigahertz). 

What is LTE? 

Due to an enormous gap between 3G and 4G, companies wanted customers to know they they were receiving service that was, in fact, better than 3G, even if it wasn't officially part of the next generation of networks. 

To this end, the name LTE, or Long Term Evolution, was invented to signify a progression towards 4G.

To make this sound even more appealing, companies began to present this technology as 4G LTE. So when someone says 4G LTE, they are referring to something that is not as strong as 4G, but stronger than 3G. 

However, the LTE standard is not clearly defined, and it is updated frequently; in addition, companies are reluctant to advertise 4G LTE now that they can provide regular 4G. 

How fast is LTE? 

LTE speeds range from 3 Mbps to 100 Mbps, but average speeds are around 10 Mbps to 30 Mbps. 

How fast is LTE?There are five generations of mobile networks: 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, with 1G networks now obsolete. Each new network offers improvements over the previous generation, primarily as it relates to data transfer speeds. 

What is 5G? 

5G is the latest mobile network that is available. The goal of 5G is to deliver faster speeds, lower latency, greater reliability, and enhanced connectivity. 

For reference, latency refers to how much time it takes for a signal/data packet to travel from its source to a destination, whereas data transfer speeds (or throughput) indicate how much data can be received and transmitted within a second. 

There are three bands of 5G: low-band 5G, mid-band 5G, and high-band 5G, each of which has different speeds. This is similar to how 4G LTE is not really 4G, but it is still better than 3G. 

5G was first rolled out in 2019, but it is likely to take decades for full implementation.

How fast is 5G?

5G brings massive improvements to data transfer speeds and connectivity, but these speeds vary. 

Ideally, 5G would offer a minimum data transfer speed of 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) and a maximum speed of 20 Gbps, but this speed varies by 5G band. 

Low-band 5G has a speed range of 50 Mbps to 250 Mbps; mid-band 5G has a speed range of 300 Mbps to 1 Gbps; and high-band 5G has a speed range of 1 Gbps to 20 Gbps.

In terms of frequency, 5G operates on a new high-frequency spectrum, the millimeter wave (mmWave), between 30 GHz and 300 GHz.  

Low-band frequency ranges between 600 MHz (megahertz) and 1 GHz; mid-band frequency ranges between 1 GHz and 6 GHz; and high-band frequency ranges between 24 GHz and 47 GHz. 

Low-band 5G is still slightly faster than 4G, and speed increases significantly with each band, getting closer and closer to "true" 5G speed.  

4G vs 5G Latency

As mentioned previously, one of the primary benefits of 5G is that it offers extremely low latency. 

The ideal latency rate for 5G is about 1 ms (millisecond), whereas for 4G, the ideal latency rate is about 10 ms. 

Of course, latency increases with each band of 5G, and ideal latency will most likely not be achieved in the lower bands.

Realistically, average 5G latency is 5 ms to 10 ms, and for 4g, its 30 ms to 70 ms. 

What is 5G NR?

5G NR (New Radio) is the new radio access technology specification set for 5G, the previous specification being LTE. 

5G NR defines how 5G devices and network infrastructure, including radio access network (RAN) equipment, use radio waves to communicate. 

The primary purpose of 5G NR is to create a scalable, flexible, and efficient 5G network for a variety of use cases. 

In comparison to LTE, 5G provides much faster data transfer speeds, reduced latency, and other network enhancements.

What is the difference between 4G and 5G?

The primary differences between 4G and 5G are in relation to frequency, speed, and latency. (As mentioned earlier, 5G has higher frequencies, higher data transfer speeds, and lower latency than 4G.)

But there are some other differences in terms of equipment and functionality, too.

5G infrastructure is much larger than 4G. 4G primarily uses cell towers to transmit signals, and though 5G uses cell towers to transmit long range frequencies, too, small cells will be densely deployed for higher frequencies that travel short distances. (More on that in the next section.)

The technology utilized by 5G networks enables cell sites to support around 1 million of these small cells per square kilometer, as opposed to 4,000 per square kilometer for 4G. 

This increased capacity greatly enhances connectivity and transforms the way that data is received and communicated, especially when dealing with interconnected devices. 

The benefits of 5G, however, can only be truly realized when running data-intensive applications.

4G vs. 5GThe primary differences between 4G and 5G are in relation to frequency, speed, and latency.

Why virtualization and edge computing are critical to 5G

As the amount of available data increases and devices become more interconnected, computing solutions must adapt to this changing technological landscape. The implementation of 5G technology is a major part of this. 

Data needs to be processed, analyzed, and sent out within a matter of seconds. This is especially true within a military environment, where even the slightest delay can have life-threatening consequences, as a lack of actionable insights can deprive military personnel of the information they need to effectively detect, track, and engage with enemy threats. 

5G networks use cell towers or radio access networks (RANs) to receive and transmit data over a network and between user equipment (UE). 

Normally, these cell towers consist of antennas, a remote radio unit (RRU), and a baseband unit (BBU). The RRU receives information from the antennas, and it then transmits this information to the BBU to be processed and sent out to the core network. 

For 5G to be successfully implemented, however, the number of BBUs must be greatly increased; in addition, these BBUs need to be virtualized and kept in one location.

This reduces the amount of costly hardware needed and enables more effective allocation of resources, providing the flexibility and speed that 5G technology requires to meet increasingly demanding workloads. 

All computations are done on the device locally and at the edge, greatly reducing latency and increasing data transfer rates, which, in turn, reduce response times when and where it matters most. 

Trenton Systems and 5G

Trenton's line of high-performance computing solutions, powered by 5G technology, deliver high throughput, reduce latency, and enhanced connectivity to provide the the compute power, networking, and storage needed to handle large amounts of data generated from an increasing number of sensors and devices.

Trenton's IES 5G solution, for example, contains multiple servers, or edge nodes, that bring data center capabilities onto each server, at the source of data, accelerating AI and data analytics capabilities in real-time for faster, more reliable communication. 

Supporting Intel® FlexRAN, the IES 5G solution allows multiple, virtualized RANs to be run on the same piece of hardware, leading to lower costs, higher reliability, and increased transportability. This greatly reduces downtime and, as a result, enables rapid deployment across the commercial, military, and critical infrastructure fields. 

Final thoughts

Though 4G and LTE offer advantages over previous generations of mobile networks, 5G currently stands as the quickest and most reliable iteration.

With virtualized, low-latency connectivity, increased data transfer rates, and enhanced analytics capacities, 5G technology is the perfect enhancement to today's high-end compute applications that must operate within an interconnected ecosystem that is flooded with massive amounts of complex data. 

Trenton Systems, partnered with tech giants like Intel®NVIDIA®, and Radisys®, stands at the forefront of the 5G digital transformation to provide customers with the latest in mission-critical, cybersecure, high-performance computing. 

We ensure data can travel over networks and between user devices in the harshest of communications-denied and -contested environments to provide our warfighters with immediate, actionable insights at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. 

Want to learn more about how you can craft a custom computing solution powered by 5G technology at the edge? Just reach out to us anytime here..

We're always here to help. 😎

Interested in learning more about 5G? Check out some other key 5G technologies that enhance compute architectures here.


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