The Good Stuff
Telecommunications Networks for the Enterprise: Understanding 3G, 4G, LTE (Long Term Evolution) and 5G
- 5 min read
Over the last few decades, wireless technology has evolved substantially. Each stage of innovation is referred to as “G” which is short for “generation.” We have now entered the 5G or fifth generation of mobile network technology. To recognize the significance of 5G, it can be helpful to understand its preceding generations.
WHAT IS 3G?
3G is the third-generation mobile network. It became commercially available in 2001. With 3G, data transfer capabilities dramatically expanded from voice-only and text to video. The connectivity speeds are significantly faster than 2G, and it is the first mobile network to enable internet connectivity on smartphones. The innovation of 3G was revolutionary for organizations because it allowed individuals to access the internet while on the road. Professionals were no longer tethered to the office for the internet. 3G ushered in the beginnings of live content collaboration, apps, and social networking.
WHAT IS 4G?
4G is the fourth-generation mobile network that was the network workhorse of the 2010s and continues to support applications today. It is exceptionally faster than 3G. 4G can reach average speeds of up to 50Mbps – 10 times faster than many 3G connections. The latency, quality, availability, reception, throughput, and security are substantially improved. Downloads are fast and streaming can be seamless. 4G ushered in advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) and helped allow organizations to manage sites remotely, expand e-commerce, enable constant connectivity, boost productivity, and refine operations. With 4G and advances in Wi-Fi, employees can work more productively and efficiently. Business continuity can see improvements as connectivity disruptions can be reduced. Additionally, with 4G, operations can be hosted in the cloud. If a piece of hardware is damaged, the intellectual property can be saved. Enterprises can have easier access to their material and data.
WHAT IS LTE?
LTE is a specific type of 4G technology, also called 4G LTE, and stands for “Long Term Evolution”. Long Term Evolutions (LTE) is a mobile network service standard that uses digital signal processing technologies (DSP). It integrates IP-based systems, and it is an upgrade provided through 4G connections. LTE is a supercharged network that delivers fast internet speeds. In order of internet speed, the networks are ranked as follows: 3G, 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G. Many devices are now programmed to select the highest quality and most efficient mobile network available in the area. Densification, building materials, and proximity to cell towers can impact performance of mobile networks.
WHAT IS 5G?
5G is the fifth-generation mobile network and the most advanced mobile network currently on the market. 5G comes with various new features and capabilities, including network slicing, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) and massive multiple input, multiple output. 5G also introduces another new standard called 5G New Radio (NR) that aims to replace LTE. 5G NR will build off LTE’s best capabilities and bring new benefits, such as increased energy savings for connected devices and enhanced connectivity.
The three key benefits of 5G networks are:
- Higher data rates, enabling consumers to download content more quickly.
- Lower latency, allowing users to experience less delay/lag when requesting data from the network — a latency of milliseconds, imperceptible to humans.
- Increased capacity as the network expands.
5G involves upgrades to the software and radio transmitters and supply the mobile network. Unlike the previous generations of mobile networks, 5G serves as an enhancement not a replacement. The massive IoT, machine-to-machine networks, artificial intelligence (AI), extreme reality (XR), cloud computing, and data analytics are all applications that can rely on 5G. For the enterprise, 5G can transform operations, logistics, services, security, manufacturing, commerce and more. Supply chains, delivery, production, and services can become more efficient and flexible as latency is reduced at different levels of production. The customer experience can be improved, translating to growth in revenue.
WHICH OPTION IS THE BEST FOR MY ORGANIZATION?
While there are many options available, the ideal solution is a network that helps an organization operate efficiently, optimally and securely. 4G/LTE and 5G networks can all be useful and are frequently deployed in today’s leading businesses.
BOOSTING CELLULAR NETWORKS WITH DISTRIBUTED ANTENNA SYSTEMS (DAS) AND SMALL CELLS
A distributed antenna system, or DAS, is a critical component of modern cellular and internet connectivity. A DAS is built out of a network of antennas that offer full wireless cellular service – from 3G to 4G/LTE and 5G – for spaces and buildings. Without DAS, many public venues and businesses struggle with low-quality wireless and cellular coverage. Learn more about DAS and why it matters for connecting business in this Executive Guide from Boingo.
Indoor small cells fulfil a similar role to DAS solutions, but whereas all antennas in a DAS share one backhaul connection, individual small cells each maintain their own individual connection. Some prime differences between small cells and many DAS solutions are that they can be less design-intensive, can have lower upfront costs, and can be deployed much faster. This can make small cells enticing to organizations looking to solve coverage and capacity issues in smaller buildings, such as small businesses, retail stores and enterprises.
Small cells and DAS are solutions for different needs and can be viewed as complementary technologies. Both DAS and small cells can be used together to help meet an organization’s desired objectives.
Boingo is a leading provider of cellular DAS and small cell solutions for the enterprise. Our networks support a range of industry verticals across transportation, sports and entertainment, commercial real estate, military bases, manufacturing and healthcare.
Ready to talk solutions? Contact Boingo.