LTE - Long Term Evolution Explained

Long Term Evolution - Fastest Wireless 4G Network

4G LTE for Mobile Devices
4G LTE for Mobile Devices. TongRo Images Inc/ GettyImages

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is a new 4G wireless broadband standard. It is the fastest wireless network for smartphones and mobile devices. It has replaced previous 4G networks like WiMax and is in the process of replacing 3G on many devices. LTE offers higher bandwidth, meaning greater connection speeds, and better underlying technology for voice calls (VoIP) and multimedia streaming. It is better suited for the heavier and bandwidth-hungry applications on mobile devices.


Improvements that LTE Offers

LTE offers better on-line activity with mobile devices due to the following features: 

- Considerably increased upload and download speeds. 

- Low data transfer latency. 

- Enhanced support for mobile devices. 

- Is more scalable, such that there can be more devices connected to an access point at a time. 

- Is refined for voice calls, with enhanced codecs and improved switching. This technology is called Voice over LTE (VoLTE). 

What You Require For LTE

To keep this page simple and readable to the layman, we will not talk about the complex network requirements at the level of the service providers and network operators. Let's take it on the side of the user, your side. 

First, you only need a mobile device that supports LTE. You can find this in the specifications of the device. Normally, the naming comes as 4G-LTE. If you want to make the most of it but have a device that does not support LTE, you are stuck unless you change your device.

Also, not all devices showing LTE in their specs are reliable. This acronym has unfortunately become a tool for marketing and often misleads. Some manufacturers fail to live up to the expectations when supplying LTE hardware. Before buying your smartphone or any other devices, read reviews, check testers' verdicts, and put some attention to the actual LTE performance of the device.


Then, of course, you need a service provider that has solid coverage in the area where you circulate. It is no use investing on LTE devices if your area is not well covered. 

You also need to consider the cost. You pay for LTE as you pay for any 3G data plan. In fact, it often comes with the same data plan, like an update. If LTE is not available in an area, connection automatically shifts to 3G. 

History of LTE

3G was quite a revolution over cellular 2G, but still lacked the punch of the speed. The ITU-R, the body regulating connections and speeds, came in 2008 with an upgraded set of requirements specifications that would satisfy the modern needs for enhanced modes of communication and mobile data consumption, such as Voice over IP, stream videos, video conferencing, data transfers, real-time collaboration etc. This new set of specifications was named 4G, which means fourth generation. The speed was one of the main specifications.

A 4G network would, according to these specifications, deliver speeds of up to 100 Mbps during motion, like in a car or train, and up to 1Gbps when stationary. These were high targets, and since the ITU-R had no say in the implementation of such standards, it had to lax the rules a little bit, such that new technologies could be considered 4G despite falling low of the above-mentioned speeds.

The market followed, and we started getting 4G implementations. Although we are not quite to the point of a gigabit per second, the 4G networks marked a considerable improvement over 3G. WiMax was an offshoot but it did not survive mainly due to the fact that it used microwaves and it required line of sight for decent speeds. 

LTE is a 4G technology and is the fastest one around so far. Its strength lies in several factors. It uses radio waves, unlike 3G and WiMAX, which use microwaves. This is what causes it to work on existing hardware. This also causes LTE networks to have better penetration in remote areas and to have greater coverage span. LTE uses partly fiber optic cables, better codecs for encoding signals, and it enhanced for multimedia transfer and data communications. 

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