What’s the difference between 4G and 5G?

As soon as consumers have got used to 4G / LTE as a mobile communications standard, the successor is already in the room.

But what is the difference to the current 4G and what can 5G do better?

To really understand the core of 5G networks, a comparison with 4G is necessary. It is important to stay open and not get involved in precise measurements.

What can 5G do better than 4G / LTE?

5G offers a number of improvements in terms of data rate, coverage and reliability. One of the main reasons for switching to 5G is the increasing number of end devices (IoT) and the growing hunger for data.

5G delivers the necessary performance and sets new technical standards. More radio antennas, wider frequency spectra (ranges that can be combined), lower latencies and high transmission rates.

Compared to its predecessor, 5G is initially significantly faster. But speed is only one of the plus points of the 5th cellular revolution. The focus is particularly on the ability to connect many more end devices than before, sometimes in real time.

LTE is good at supplying 1-2 end devices with sufficient performance and reliability via one connection. With five, ten or more it gets more difficult.

5G is much faster than LTE

What would a new generation of mobile communications be without an extreme increase in performance? The jump from 3G to 4G was already enormous. Today’s LTE networks achieve 300-500 Mbit/s (0.5 Gbit), while 3G ends at a meager 42 Mbit/s.

5G, on the other hand, will deliver a good 1-2 GBit/s in the first phase, and later even 10 or 20 GBit/s. That would correspond to an improvement by a factor of 10 to 40, even measured against today’s fastest LTE networks.

However, that does not mean that in a few years we will be able to measure 2GBit in the smartphone everywhere. You can check your latency, download and upload speed on Speedcheck.

From today’s perspective, the data rates are crazy. And even vlogging cameras, smartphones these days gives 4k (even 8k) output quality videos. And an Ultra-HD video stream in the best quality hardly requires more than 30 Mbit per second.

On average, today’s 4G networks are not nearly as fast as they are on paper. Network tests usually attest an average speed of around 50-80 Mbit/s. Thanks to 5G, the average data rate should increase further – initially to at least 100-200 Mbit.

Technical differences LTE vs 5G

Of course, there are also tangible technical differences, which we want to summarize briefly in the following table. The first two lines are decisive for the significantly higher data rate targeted with 5G.

While with 4G currently only frequency ranges with a width of up to 20 MHz can be bundled via carrier aggregation, with 5G it is already 100 MHz. In the millimeter wave range at over 28 GHz, even a whopping 1 GHz per carrier. Source: ieee.org

LTE5G (NR)
Operating frequencyup to 6 GHzup to 6 GHz + mmWave bands
Carrier bandwidthmaximum 20 MHz per carrier<6 GHz to 100 MHz per carrier
Carrier aggregationYesYes
Analog beamformingunsupportedsupported
Digital beamformingup to 8 layersup to 12 layers
Subcarrier distance15 kHz15, 30, 60, 120 or 240 kHz
Self-contained subframeunsupportedcan be implemented
Frequency allocationup to 90% of the channel bandwidth  up to 98% of the channel bandwidth

5G works differently from LTE

The fundamental innovation is that other or new frequency ranges and far more antennas (MIMO) are used. While bands below 3 GHz were mainly used for 4G, 5G goes much further.

In addition to ranges up to 6 GHz , entirely new ones will be added soon. And with far, far higher frequencies and thus shorter wavelengths and lower ranges.

The aim is to bands between 24 and 100 GHz – this is also known as the mmWave range. First and foremost, this means that much more bandwidth is available for the data transfer rate.

With LTE, mobile operators have so far been using a maximum of 100 MHz per carrier aggregation. With 5G, this value could multiply to over 1000 MHz. The disadvantage: You need a lot more radio stations for good 5G coverage than with LTE. More about it here .

However, 5G will do much more than just accelerate videos on smartphones. Experts anticipate a small revolution, especially in the industrial sector.

Autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, Smart Farming are the most frequently mentioned terms. Thanks to the multi-layer approach , 5G can be designed for all needs equally. LTE was primarily only optimized for performance.

Another feature will be that 5G masts will be able to transmit much more precisely (keyword beamforming).

Instead of aimlessly broadcasting in all directions, one or more users can be targeted, which on the one hand saves energy and also enormously improves the capacity of the radio station.

To sum it up all, Here is a beautiful infographic to understand the difference and few major pros & cons between 4g vs 5g.

What's the difference between 4G and 5G? 1

Hope you found the difference between 5g vs 4g. If you have any questions just comment down below.

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