What is 4G Network

On 25 Nov., 2019

Let’s start with the “technical” definition. In 2007, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defined a new global standard called International Mobile

What is 4G Network

Let’s start with the “technical” definition. In 2007, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defined a new global standard called International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced (IMT-Advanced), stating that it will be an IP (Internet Protocol) packet-switched network that uses VoIP (Voice over IP) instead of separate telephone call channels, like what is used in 3G networks.

Features of 4G networks

Defined by the ITU include the following points:

  • A high degree of commonality of functionality worldwide while retaining the flexibility to support a wide range of services and applications in a cost efficient manner
  • Compatibility of services within IMT and with fixed networks
  • Capability of interworking with other radio access systems
  • High quality mobile services
  • User equipment suitable for worldwide use
  • User-friendly applications, services and equipment
  • Worldwide roaming capability
  • Enhanced peak data rates to support advanced services and applications (100 Mbps for high mobility devices, and 1 Gbps for low mobility devices)

Types of 4G networks

So what are some of the standards out there that are sometimes marketed as “4G”?

WiMAX, short for Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a technology standard for long-range wireless networking based on the IEEE 802.16 set of wide-area communications standards. At one point, WiMAX was considered to be a leading form of mobile data connectivity, but because of limited adoption and less than satisfactory real-world speeds, WiMax fell to the wayside.



LTE, or Long Term Evolution, boasts theoretical downlink speeds of 100 Mbps and uploads of 75 Mbps. LTE, which is an IP-based system, is a complete redesign and simplification of 3G network architecture, resulting in a significant reduction in transfer latency. Because of this, LTE is not compatible with 2G and 3G networks and also functions on an entirely different wireless spectrum. Unfortunately, this means that erecting an LTE network requires it to be built from the ground up.

As mentioned, LTE has seen incredible growth in just a few years, and these days you can find it just about everywhere.


LTE Advanced is the next major step in the evolution of LTE networks, and is the beginning of true 4G. LTE-A is not only about faster data speeds, but is to provide IMT-Advanced functionality while allowing for backward compatibility with current LTE devices to avoid a second major overhaul. LTE-Advanced will provide 1 Gbps downlink for low mobility conditions, with 100 Mbps for high mobility devices, as specified by the IMT-A standard. LTE Advanced promises better coverage, more stability, and much faster performance.

The good news is that 4G LTE-A is continuing to become more and more commonplace.

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