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What is the Difference Between 4G, LTE, LTE+, and LTE Advanced?

Posted by on Mar 03, 2016

Differences between 4g, lte, lte-plus, and lte-advanced.

We set out to clarify technical jargons in simple terms so that average smartphone users can make sense of it all, and be well-informed when buying a smart phone and/or a signal booster kit for it. 4G and LTE are closely-related technologies. However, despite what some people think, and despite the impression some networks try to give – they are not one and the same thing. But then what are the differences, and how much do they matter? The first step in answering these questions is to determine what exactly the two terms mean.

What is 4G?

4G is the 4th Generation of mobile internet connectivity, and refers to mobile internet networks that are able to offer certain speeds. These speed criteria were first defined in 2008, long before they were realistic, as something for mobile networks to aspire to, in developing the next generation of internet connectivity.

On-the-go, a network has to offer peak speeds of no less than 100 Mbps to qualify as 4G. In more stable applications, such as stationary hotspots, peak speeds must reach at least 1Gbps. While these speeds may have been nothing more than future targets when they were first set, new technologies have allowed 4G-compliant networks to be rolled out, and some older 3G networks to be improved to offer 4G speeds. However, even so reliably achieving 4G standards proved a bit more difficult than anticipated, and this is where LTE comes in.

What is LTE?

LTE is 4G – in a sense. It stands for Long Term Evolution, and refers not to a single technology but to the processes, developments, and set of technologies used to try to bring about 4G speeds. As it proved more difficult than expected to actually bring about 4G speeds, regulators decided that LTE networks which offered a significant improvement over 3G speeds would be eligible for labelling as 4G even if they did not meet the speeds originally set as 4G standards.

This was a decision companies were quick to take advantage of, and a lot of the time when your phone claims to have 4G reception it is actually connected to an LTE network. This is 4G in a sense thanks to the regulator's decision, but it isn't true 4G in that it does not really meet 4G speed standards. LTE mobile devices are typically capable of CAT4 speeds (Category 4 speeds) and can reach a theoretical speed of 150 Mbps (Mega-Byte Per Second).

What is LTE+ (or LTE Plus) and LTE-A (or LTE Advanced)

LTE+ and LTE-A are exactly the same - The terms are used interchangeably because some carriers in some countries decided to use one or the other for no particular reason. This technology is basically based on the basic LTE platform discussed above, except that the data transfer speeds are triple or even more faster than LTE.

Availability of Plus or Advanced LTE in mobile equipment (smartphones and tablets) is increasing steadily as more manufacturers are manufacturing their flagship or higher end devices that are capable of it (Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge being a prime example). LTE mobile devices are typically capable of CAT6 speeds (Category 6 speeds) and can reach a theoretical speed of 300 Mbps.

The coverage of Advanced or Plus LTE is also gradually increasing as more cellular service providers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint in USA and Bell, Telus, Rogers in Canada are expanding their coverage offering these incredibly high data transfer speeds outside of major cities in USA and Canada, respectively. North American mobile service providers have started this trend of starting with the largest cities first, and then aggressively building their Advanced or Plus LTE networks to support remaining vast areas of their respective coverage areas within their respective countries.

Do the Differences Matter?

In an everyday sense, the differences probably don't matter very much. Most of our signal boosters are also 4G capable (forward to 5G capable and backward to 2G & 3G compatible) whereas all of our commercial boosters are 5G/ 4G LTE compatible. There is not a hugely noticeable gap in speeds between 4G LTE and true 4G networks, and due to time and location variances, these networks will often offer virtually identical speeds. LTE Advanced or LTE Plus on the other hand, offer considerably faster wireless data transfer speeds which may be very helpful if one performs a lot of Internet activities such as frequent downloads, etc. on their mobile devices using their mobile networks. However, it is important to note that in order to take advantage of those higher speeds, the mobile devices have to be capable of those higher speeds and the cellular provider has to have that Advanced or Plus network available in areas of mobile use.

There can be something of a difference when it comes to buying signal boosting equipment. If you are buying a signal booster or repeater with the intention of extending a type of LTE or 4G reception, for example, then you will probably want the one that has "4G" included in its name or description. We sell 4G signal boosters that are compatible with both true 4G, LTE, and LTE Advanced/ Plus networks so you will be covered for all because they are backward compatible, all the way down to 3G and 2G. Now you know the differences between 4G LTE LTE+ and LTE Advanced!

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation or try our automated Cell Phone Signal Booster Selector Tool. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit location details for cell phone signal booster system design & installation quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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