You probably heard these terms used a lot in cell phone advertising. “lightening fast 3g” “blazing fast 4g speeds!” or even more confusing “fastest network available at 4g lte!”. But what does that all mean? Is 3g always faster than 4g? and what does the G even stand for? Don’t worry, because we here at TheBlueDot have the answers for you!
First, lets get one thing out in the open, G stands for “generation”. I know some people who got the G mixed up with terms like Gigabytes, thinking 3 to 4 means more of… those. Well, that isn’t actually the case. 3G simply means speeds faster than 144 Kpbs, which isn’t bad for speed. But there are so many different versions of 3g. a newer 3g phone may be ten times faster than an older one and, in some cases, may be even faster than a 4g phone. The major problem with the term 4g is it only means fourth generation and doesn’t have a minimum setting like 3g has.
That may be shocking to some, which is why you have to pay attention to other details. 4G LTE is much faster, Verizon being the fastest of them all at the moment. LTE is a newer broadband technology for wireless communication. While a phone that just says “4g” may be just as fast as a 3g phone. The International Telecommunications Union tried to set a minimum speed listing for a phone to be called 4g, but almost every carrier ignored them, which led to them just giving up on the matter. This can spell bad news for a buyer looking for a 4g phone, after owning a 3g phone for two years, only to be given a phone that may be even slower than their last phone.
HSPA, WiMAX and LTE are the only “real” 4g speeds you’ll want to pay attention to, especially the 4g LTE speeds. But what does LTE mean? LTE was actually how the ITU got past the whole losing battle on 4g phone speeds. LTE is the next standard of broadband speed. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which means anything with LTE in it’s name is a service that continuously gets faster over time. It doesn’t matter if you have a new 4G cell phone or a used cell phone, if it has LTE in it’s name it is going to be pretty darn fast. Verizon’s LTE has been clocked in on average of 15.75 Mbps, which is a significant jump over 3g’s minimum.
So when you’re out buying a new or refurbished cell phone and are looking for the fastest speeds available, ignore the 3g and 4g names. The only names that mean anything to you should be 3g and 4g (combined into one group), and LTE, WiMAX and HSPA. Those last three are true broadband 4g speeds.