Gig Comparison

3G 4G 5G – What’s the difference?

If you feel like the wireless carriers are constantly rolling out new campaigns to tout the best, greatest, fastest, most-reliable new networks, it’s because they are constantly changing the way they do business.

3G, 4G and 5G aren’t just marketing buzzwords, they’re completely different technologies designed to bring more bandwidth to their consumers.

While 5G is rolling out in select cities, there are many rural areas that still connect over 3G networks. What’s the difference? Why doesn’t everyone get 5G right away? It comes down to cost.
3G technology began back in 1998 and is still used in some areas today. It was designed to use a longer wavelength that could travel further, penetrate walls and foliage better and deliver about 2Mbps, max.

4G was rolled out in the late 2000s and promised much higher speeds. On 4G, users are able to connect at up to 100Mbps, a huge improvement from the 2Mbps max of 3G. However, to deliver that bandwidth, the wavelength got shorter which meant less travel and less penetration for walls and foliage. That limitation required the carriers to put up additional towers to bring 4G coverage to their customers.

5G brings the same benefits and drawbacks. With 5G, we may be able to see speeds of up to 10Gbps, but the carriers are going to have to put lots and lots of access points in to provide this coverage. That’s why not every city is going to have 5G right away and some might not see it for years, if ever.

Why do we need all that speed?

Well, some of our technology is dependent on access to bandwidth. Think about the Internet. At its inception, the Internet was a bunch of text. As bandwidth evolved, the Internet could share photos and files, then video, then higher quality video and so-on. With more and more devices connecting every day, we need more and more bandwidth available to power those devices. If we want to see technology enhancements like augmented reality, 5G is going to get us closer to the bandwidth requirements we’ll need to roll out a technology like that.

So, the bottom line is, it’s not all hype, and the improvements will never stop. Our future technology depends on our future bandwidth.

I hope you’ve found this post informative!

Brian Crommett
CEO
702 Communications

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