How Fast Is 4G LTE Wireless Service?

4G speed is 10 times faster than 3G

4G and 4G LTE wireless service providers like to talk about their super-speedy 4G wireless networks, but just how fast is 4G compared to 3G? 4G wireless delivers service is at least 10 times faster than 3G networks and much faster than that, in many cases.

Speeds vary by your location, provider, mobile network load, and device. If you live in a large city, the speed is usually higher than the speed available in remote areas of the country.

All of the information below should apply to iPhone and Android phones (no matter which company made your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc).

4G and 4G LTE

Illustration of the pros and cons of 4G LTE service

4G is the fourth generation of mobile network technology. It replaces 3G and is more reliable and much faster than its predecessor. It accommodates streaming media on your phone, where its speed means you won't see any buffering delays. It is considered a necessity, rather than a luxury, for use with the high-powered smartphones on the market.

Some people use the terms 4G and 4G LTE interchangeably, but 4G LTE, which stands for the fourth generation long-term evolution, delivers the best performance and fastest speeds. 4G is offered in most areas of the country now, but 4G LTE is not as widely available. Even if your provider offers 4G LTE speed, you must have a compatible phone to access it. Most older phones can't accommodate 4G LTE speeds.

4G LTE networks are fast—so fast, that when you use one on your phone to access the internet, you enjoy an experience similar to that provided by a home router.

Advantages of 4G LTE Service

In addition to its high speed, which makes streaming video, movies, and music possible, 4G LTE service offers some other advantages, particularly when compared with Wi-Fi networks:

  • 4G offers a wide service area. Unlike Wi-Fi, where you have to depend on hotspots wherever you go for a connection, 4G service is often available as you travel.
  • 4G LTE services offer online security that is beneficial to anyone who has sensitive information on a smartphone.
  • 4G networks are more affordable than they have been in the past. Service providers offer plans that are less expensive, and they usually offer several plans, so you can pick the one that suits you best.

Disadvantages of 4G LTE Service

  • LTE service is not yet available everywhere.
  • New hardware, such as an LTE-compatible phone, may be necessary.
  • Battery life may be adversely affected.

4G Speed of Popular Mobile Carriers

In all cases, download speed is faster than upload speed. These 4G speed measurements are reported as what the average users can expect. They may or may not be reflected in your device given your service area, network load, and phone or tablet capabilities.

The 4G speeds are expressed in megabits per second (Mbps).

Verizon 4G LTE Speed

  • Verizon offers the highest average download speed at 36 Mbps, with much higher speeds available in major cities.
  • Verizon upload speed averages almost 15 Mbps.

T-Mobile 4G LTE Speed

T-Mobile has a reputation for performing well in metropolitan areas, although its speed is known to drop indoors.

  • Average download speed 23–24 Mbps
  • Average upload speed 16–17 Mbps

AT&T 4G LTE Speed

  • Average download speed 25–26 Mbps
  • Average upload speed 11–12 Mbps

Sprint 4G LTE Speed

  • 4G LTE average download speed is 12–30 Mbps. In large cities, the average download speed reaches 35 Mbps.
  • 4G LTE average upload speed 7–8 Mbps

What's Next?

5G is the newest mobile network technology. It promises to be 10 times faster than 4G service. 5G will differ from 4G in that it is designed to use radio frequencies broken into bands. The frequencies are higher than those used by 4G networks and have been expanded to handle the large number of bandwidth demands the future will bring.

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