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Difference Between 5G And LTE

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The main difference between 5G and LTE is the network speed. 5G is way faster and more reliable than any LTE network connection. 5G users are expected to experience improved internet speed, faster download and upload rates, low latency, reduced network connection failure, and smoother internet access. LTE, however, is still reliable and offers high-speed internet but is inferior to any 5G network overall.

Moreover, expect 5G to run on higher radio frequency, going up to 300GHz, while LTE is restricted up to 6GHz. High radio frequency helps secure a stronger network connection, which is expected to not break down due to outer interference.

What is 5G?

3GPP's (3rd Generation Partnership Project) 5G logo

5G is the 5th generation of a mobile network, a successor to LTE and previous generations. 5G network is intended to keep all the 5G enabled devices to stay connected to a network and facilitate services including flawless internet access, voice calls, etc. Furthermore, a 5G connection is aimed to aid 3D holograms, make virtual reality a dream come true, and improve the augmented reality experience.

Several countries are actively trying to adapt to 5G technology, and South Korea remains the first country on the globe to implement it. The overall cost of 5G infrastructure, including towers, network cables, and improvement in the base switching center and main switching center, is noticeably higher than any other network technology like LTE.

What is LTE?

3GPP's LTE logo

Short for Long Term Evolution, the technology is designed to aid high-speed wireless broadband connection specifically for mobile devices (smartphones, etc.) and data terminals. Some people consider LTE and 4G the same, which is wrong. LTE technology operates on a separate radio frequency and bandwidth to establish a different channel for the smooth flow of data packets between the devices on the network. As a result, the users will experience better internet speed even on the go. The predecessor 3G promised high-speed internet on mobile devices, and LTE intended to improve that existing technology.

Differences Between 5G And LTE

Spectrum/Frequency Bands

5G operates on a radio band ranging from 30GHz to 300GHz. LTE, however, is capped to 6GHz, while most common household broadband services are confined to 5GHz only. 5G and LTE use separate spectrums, so the users cannot connect to a 5G network while on an LTE network and vice versa. That’s why telecommunication companies must purchase or bid for spectrums for different networks based on the country’s government policies.

Cost Of Renting The Service

Users opting for a 5G service are expected to shell out more money than those opting for an LTE service. That’s because the overall costs involved in setting up a 5G network are huge, and the end-user is the ultimate bearer of the expenses. Moreover, better service attracts increased rent and fees. LTE is way cheaper than 5G for the end consumer.


LTE is meant for incredibly fast internet access, allowing uninterrupted HD video streaming online. Such a feature resulted in a boom in network technology since the users could never imagine HD video streaming on previous network technologies. LTE also supports VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution), where the voice calls were carried out on the same network, demanding access to the internet but consuming negligible data.

However, 5G is meant for ultra-fast internet access, which can possibly leave the user with even a 10GB file downloaded from the internet in a blink of an eye. Moreover, low latency and a highly reliable network are some common features expected from 5G.

Traffic Capacity

LTE can support hundreds of devices on the same network in a region. In other words, an LTE tower in a region can support high-speed internet service to hundreds of devices before resulting in reduced internet service. 5G has a higher traffic capacity per tower. Expect thousands of users to enjoy blazing internet access while connected to the same 5G tower.

Hardware Compatibility

LTE devices don’t necessarily support a 5G network connection. Users preferring to switch to 5G have to purchase a 5G compatible device, which might have backward compatibility to connect to an LTE network.

However, users can also purchase an external 5G Wi-Fi adapter to connect to a 5G network without replacing their existing PC.

Comparison Chart: 5G Vs LTE

LatencyLess than 10ms100ms (for C plan) and nearly 10ms (for U plan)
SpeedUp to 10GB/s or average 50MB/sUp to 1GB/s or average 15MB/s
ReliabilityHighest recorded reliability of 99.5% (AT&T), 98.8% (Verizon), and 97.3% (T-Mobile)Lower than 5G
DowntimeAimed to decrease downtimeA considerable amount of downtime in case of a fault before being back up online
Technology StatusUnder developmentFully developed
Connection DensityThousands of devices per towerHundreds of devices per tower
ThroughputUniform network connection speed on all devicesSome devices can experience reduced network connection speed at peak connection rate for a given tower


Both 5G and LTE were invented to improve internet access, including HD video streaming. Furthermore, 5G and LTE support IoT devices for better communication between the users and the IoT devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I care about 5G?

Users must care about 5G if they’re fans of better and more reliable internet speeds. However, considering the cost of renting the service might discourage some users with a limited budget from switching to a better network. Research reports expect that LTE must dominate Central Europe and other parts of the world for at least till the year 2026. Until the technology is in beta and/or developing state, 5G users are not guaranteed to experience noticeable differences after all.

Will I need a fresh sim card to switch from LTE to 5G?

LTE sim cards won’t get connected to a 5G network, demanding a fresh sim card to support 5G from the telecommunication service provider. 

What will happen if everyone switches to 5G?

If most users switch to 5G, it’ll leave the LTE network with reduced users. According to the theoretical knowledge, LTE users should see an improvement in the network connection since there would hardly be many people left to consume the resources. Less traffic on the bandwidth will result in high-speed internet.

Can 5G slow down my existing mobile phone?

5G is blazing fast and expects the device hardware to match its potential. If you have a phone with extremely limited hardware, you will surely notice a sluggish device. 5G would be the culprit.


By the end of this article, it’s safe to conclude that 5G is way better and faster than LTE. But since the technology is expected to be relatively new until the year 2026 or later, switching to 5G is not mandatory or required at all in the first place.

Until you’re a regular user with normal internet requirements such as watching movies (that demands the most speed), you should be fine staying on an LTE network. Some users simply switch to a better technology just to show off or look cool in front of society, friends, and family, even if better technology isn’t needed.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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