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Gigabit-Class LTE FAQs

Seeking answers about Gigabit-Class LTE technology?

Perhaps you already know that Gigabit-Class LTE is a higher-performance expansion of the 4G LTE wireless mobile telecommunications technology. But what about the speed and availability of Gigabit-Class LTE? And what is the performance of Gigabit-Class LTE vs. 5G and 4G LTE? We’re glad you asked.

Officially known as LTE-Advanced Pro, Gigabit-Class LTE is a higher-performance expansion of the 4G LTE wireless mobile telecommunications technology. The central advancements in Gigabit-Class LTE are quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM); 4×4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO); and carrier aggregation — each of which is a component of 5G.

Gigabit-Class LTE offers theoretical download speeds of at least 1 Gbps, enabling a variety of networking use cases that weren’t possible or viable with 4G LTE. However, under real-world conditions, Gigabit-Class LTE has download speeds between 50 and 350 Mbps — still up to seven times faster than 4G LTE.

Gigabit-Class LTE is rapidly being rolled out by most major global network operators. The Gigabit-Class LTE rollout will be completed well before the 5G rollout is complete.

As stated above, Gigabit-Class LTE is a result of enhancements to 4G LTE. While Gigabit-Class LTE and 4G LTE utilize the same spectrum, Gigabit-Class LTE is up to seven times faster, with lower latency, than 4G LTE because of developments such as quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM); 4×4 Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO); and carrier aggregation. Download speeds for 4G LTE fall within the 10 to 50 Mbps range, while Gigabit-Class LTE speeds fall within the 50 to 350 Mbps range.

The two services co-exist, and Gigabit-Class LTE is backward compatible to 4G LTE. In other words, users can purchase Gigabit-Class LTE endpoints today and run on 4G LTE even if the Gigabit-Class LTE service is currently unavailable in their area. When the service turns up, the endpoints will then run on the Gigabit-Class LTE service.

There are two significant differences between Gigabit-Class LTE and 5G. First, 5G uses the latest generation of cellular technologies as standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The 5G standard greatly expands the focus of cellular communications into three areas: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) for higher capacity and network efficiency, Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) for applications like autonomous driving, and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) for widespread IoT applications. 5G also significantly improves network efficiency and user performance with a variety of core network innovations, air interface innovations, and the use of new spectrum.

Second, since Gigabit-Class LTE operates in the low-band spectrum, it has much better propagation characteristics (The extent that radio waves travel or penetrate objects) than millimeter wave-based 5G. Some 5G services will be deployed on low-band spectrum and will share similar propagation characteristics of Gigabit-Class LTE. Download speeds of Gigabit-Class LTE fall within the 50 to 350 Mbps range while download speeds for millimeter wave-based 5G will be in the 300 Mbps to 3.5 Gbps range.

4G LTE, including Gigabit-Class LTE)lis the foundational technology for 5G. For 5G, modems will maintain two connections: 5G and 4G LTE. If a 5G signal weakens, traffic automatically flows through the LTE connection. 4G and Gigabit-Class LTE will remain a foundational elements of 5G for the foreseeable future.

Organizations that are aware of the promises of 5G technology want to ensure their purchases today will set the right foundation for tomorrow. Not only does Gigabit-Class LTE use many of the same technologies, but it will also be the fallback technology for 5G. Leading networking vendors offer Gigabit-Class LTE solutions that are designed to be 5G Ready for enterprise-class use cases. An edge networking service is 5G Ready when the service can offer:

  • Software-defined control
  • Wireless high availability
  • Multi-carrier and multi-service flexibility
  • Robust wireless management

In most cases, Gigabit-Class LTE is the first step on the Pathway to 5G.

4G LTE Gigabit-Class LTE 5G
Medical Remote consultation Remote diagnosis Remote surgery
Video for surveillance Visual recognition HD visual recognition Machine recognition and automatic triggers
Video for marketing A visual experience A better visual experience An immersive experience, e.g., augmented reality
Video for public safety Video capture for analysis afterward Real-time HD monitoring Machine recognition and response
Wireless WAN Cut the cord (lower bandwidth requirements) Cut the cord (higher bandwidth requirements) Cut the cord (fiber-like requirements)
Branch high availability Critical application failover All application failover Built-in wireless failback
Industrial operations Wireless monitoring Wireless remote operation Wireless autonomous operation
Workforce collaboration Video collaboration HD video collaboration Augmented reality collaboration
Transportation Tracking and telemetry applications Multimedia applications Autonomous applications