LTE (Long Term Evolution) Definition

LTE improves internet browsing on mobile devices

Surfing the net in the city
filadendron/Getty Images

Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a wireless broadband technology designed to support roaming internet access by cellphones and other handheld devices. Because LTE offers significant improvements over older cellular communication standards, some refer to it as a 4G technology, along with WiMax. It is the fastest wireless network for smartphones and other mobile devices.

What Is LTE Technology

With its architecture based on Internet Protocol (IP), unlike many other cellular internet protocols, LTE is a high-speed connection that supports browsing websites, VoIP, and other IP-based services.

LTE can theoretically support downloads at 300 megabits per second or more. However, the actual network bandwidth available to an individual LTE subscriber who shares the service provider's network with other customers is significantly less.

LTE service is widely available in many areas of the U.S. through large cellular providers, although it hasn't yet reached some rural areas. Check with your provider or online for availability.

Devices That Support LTE

The first devices that supported LTE technology appeared in 2010. Most high-end smartphones and many tablets are equipped with the right interfaces for LTE connections. Older mobile phones usually don't offer LTE service. Check with your service provider. Laptops do not offer LTE support.

Advantages of LTE Connections

LTE service offers an improved online experience on your mobile devices. LTE offers:

  • Much faster upload and download speeds
  • Enhanced support for mobile devices
  • Low data transfer latency

LTE Effect on Battery Life

LTE functions can negatively affect battery life, particularly when the phone or tablet is in an area that has a weak signal, which makes the device work harder. Battery life also decreases when the device maintains more than one internet connection—as occurs when you jump back and forth between two websites.

LTE and Phone Calls

LTE is based on IP technology to support internet connections, not voice calls. Some voice-over IP technologies work with LTE service, but some cellular providers configure their phones to switch seamlessly to a different protocol for phone calls. 

LTE Service Providers

Most likely, your AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon provider offers LTE service if you live near an urban area. Check with your provider to confirm this.

Was this page helpful?