The Beginner’s Guide to 4G LTE
One of the most anticipated aspects of new technology is newer technology. Upgrades happen so quickly, by the time you’ve grasped the latest acronyms, it’s soon obsolete and time to learn a new one.
The emergence of 4G LTE is no different. In the beginning the traditional telecom was all about making a phone call. Then three decades ago computers ushered in the transmittal of digital information over telephone systems and the use of radio to transmit telephone signals. This marked the advent of mobile technology.
The cellular wireless revolution
The arrival of the first generation of wireless telecommunications or first generation technology came about in the 1980s. Mobile phones operated using analog-based protocols; the handsets were very large and facilitated voice only service.
These first generation phone systems were replaced in the early 1990s by the introduction of the first digital systems or 2G digital telecommunications, which facilitated SMS, picture messaging, and multimedia.
As phone usage increased and people became more mobile, new applications emerged that supported the use of mobile phones for data related things like downloads and accessing video content. This again drove the demand for systems to provide a relatively high speed data transfer capability.
Third generation or 3G systems like HSPA and HSPA+ soon followed. They were able to provide significant improvement in performance over the 2G systems and met the data considerations for GPS, Mobile TV, Video on Demand (VOD), and video conferencing.
With new mobile generations appearing approximately every ten years, by 2010 it was estimated worldwide there were 5 billion mobile cellular subscriptions.
G is for generation
In telecom ‘G’ is for generation. Within each generation or upgrade there are various competing standards, and improvements. Each generation has a different protocol stack, modulation scheme, technology architecture, and radio. As a result, each generation represents a completely new network.
Telecoms soon realized the need to smooth out the change of technology between generations in order to keep their old investment valuable for as long as possible. They also needed to support both old and new customer phones at the same time, and for a longer period, while keeping technology changes possible within one generation in order to take advantage of new chips and designs.
This gave rise to the “evolution” concept as they attempted to develop fourth generation standards that are easily upgradable and capable of a “long term” life.
4G is is often referred to as mobile wireless broadband. 4G is a step up from 3G and is designed to deliver speed and fast connection times i.e. low latency. On average it can be four to ten times faster than existing 3G networks.
Generally speaking, in terms of wireless technology, 4G LTE is a stepping stone to true 4G. Speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) are required for 4G while stationary, and 100 Mbps in fast moving vehicles. 4G LTE delivers up to 300 Mbps.
LTE or Long Term Evolution is the fourth generation for the mobile system. It provides greater speed for the movement of data than previous generations. Prior to LTE, telecom providers marketed upgrades to 3G technology as if it met true 4G connection standards, however this was not the case. The 4G standards set forth initially were a bit far reaching and the existing technology could not live up to them.
LTE was created as an upgrade to the 3G standards. It was determined that the term LTE could be given to the technology that is put in place as networks pursue the 4G standards. The main difference between 3G and 4G technology is an all IP or Internet Protocol based solution, which is fundamental to how the internet works. LTE is a complete IP based network; a totally different technology to previous networks. Because of this, entire network components like phones, modulation scheme, protocol stack, technology architecture, radio etc, all have to change.
This difference in technology, software and antennae to communicate, requires LTE users with older network technology to acquire a new SIM card to authenticate to the LTE network. Depending on the type of device a customer currently has, a new phone might be required that has the technology to package information coming across the LTE network.
4G LTE is a game changer as the most advanced network where speed is concerned. LTE employs data only to move all its information. LTE is the first technology that provides subscribers with a true mobile broadband experience similar to at home broadband services, hence the speed factor. Wireless broadband information moves way faster than experienced by previous technology.
4G LTE networks can download data anywhere from 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps), which allows for smooth streaming of live video and better response times for multiplayer online games. On an optimal 4G LTE network users can stream music and video, upload and download content using their smartphones and tablets as quickly as they do with fixed broadband connections.