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Difference Between 3G and 4G

Difference between the speeds of 3g and 4g networks.
Samyak Lalit | April 9, 2016 (Last update: September 13, 2019)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

Although you can do a lot of thing with your mobile phone without a service plan, having a good internet-enabled cellular plan turns your phone into a wonderful device. Year 2015 brought the speed of 4G network to millions of new mobile phone users. And now the 4G networks are spreading all around us. Slowly but steadily, more and more mobile service operators, like Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio, are unfolding their 4G plans. As a result, the 4G arena is getting increasingly competitive and customers are getting better deals. But before switching to 4G, people often ask questions like “what is the difference between 3G and 4G?” or “how fast is 4G?” or “should I take a 4G plan?“, “is my phone 4G ready?“. These are very obvious questions. 3G network speed has been good enough for most people, so why would they switch to 4G without asking such questions! Today, we will tell you the answers.

What is 4G Network?

Before we explain what is 4G, we would recommend that you read our article on the meaning of 2g, 3g, H+ etc. This article will give you the basic knowledge of the associated terms.

Meaning of Letter G in Mobile Signal

Letter G stands for GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). It indicates the slowest speed of Internet data transfer in your mobile phone. When you see G near your signal strength indicator, it is certain that your net connection is working at the slowest speed.

GPRS is considered to be the second generation (2G) mobile technology. It is the slowest and oldest among all mobile technologies. It is mainly good enough for sending text messages using apps like WhatsApp. Data rates in GPRS are between 56 and 114 kbit/second.

If your mobile signal is weak, you might get even slower speed on Internet. There are ways to boost mobile signal strength and thus the Internet speed will also increase.

3G means the third generation of mobile telephone technology. It uses the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System and is based on GSM standards.

Typically 3G provides data transfer rates 384 kbit/second. But depending upon how it is implemented in various networks, the data rate can go upto 42 Mbits/second.

Usually 3G is faster than EDGE and you can easily browse websites and stream music.

As you can guess by now, 4G means the fourth generation mobile technology.

But don’t think that 4G is a single technology! In reality, 4G is a gamut of various technology all of which are marketed under the name 4G. Technologies like HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX, and LTE are all considered 4G and there is significant difference among these technologies.

So, if you want to know what is the true 4G, there is no real answer to it. However, a lot of people believe that LTE should be considered the true 4G technology.

Comparison between 3G and 4G

The main difference between 3G and 4G is that of speed. 4G offers you speed of broadband right on your mobile phone. 4G network can be as much as ten times faster than 3G. You can easily stream movies over 4G.

Comparison chart of 3G and 4G
3G 4G
Data Throughput Up to 3.1Mbps with an average speed range between 0.5 to 1.5 Mbps From 2 to 12 Mbps but theoretically speed could be from 100 to 300 Mbps.
Peak Download Rate 100 Mbps 1 Gbps
Peak Upload Rate 5 Mbps 500 Mbps
Switching Technique Packet switching Packet switching, message switching
Network Architecture Wide Area Cell Based Integration of wireless LAN and Wide area.
Services And Applications CDMA 2000, UMTS, EDGE etc Wimax2 and Long Term Evolution – Advanced (LTE-A)
Forward error correction (FEC) Turbo codes for error correction. Concatenated codes
Frequency Band 1.8 – 2.5 GHz 2 – 8 GHz

Speed Comparison of 3G and 4G

Tabular comparison of data speeds offered by various generations of mobile technology.

Tabular comparison of data speeds offered by various generations of mobile technology.

How faster is 4G than 3G?

This is one the main question that people consider while thinking about switching from 3G to 4G. Well, a 4G network can be ten times faster than 3G network. 4G is really much faster than 3G. A picture says a thousand words, so the following image should give you an idea about how faster 4G is in comparison with 3G:

Difference between the speeds of 3g and 4g networks.

Difference between the speeds of 3g and 4g networks.

4G appears to be a flood of speed. However, the real internet speed you will get depends on many other factors as well. Nowadays mobile service operators are calling everything from HSPA+ to LTE as “4G”… so, if your mobile operator is offering HSPA+ as 4G you will get much slower speed than from a network which offers LTE or LTE-A as 4G.

Also learn how to boost your mobile signal.

Should you switch to 4G?

We will recommend that you should definitely switch to 4G plans because that is the future! However, if you use your mobile internet connection mainly for facilities like WhatsApp chat or Facebook etc. –then you don’t really need 4G. Such applications do work and will continue to work pretty well on 3G networks.

However, if you do a lot of web surfing on mobile, if you watch streaming videos from YouTube on mobile, then you should switch to 4G.

We hope that this article was useful for you in understanding the difference between 3G and 4G networks. Now you know that 4G is faster and how fast it can be. If you have any questions on this subject please feel free to ask in the comments section, we will do our best to assist you. Thank you for using TechWelkin!


4 responses to “Difference Between 3G and 4G”

  1. Hissing Fola says:

    I am using 3G network on a Samsung note5,so can it as well affect certain apps on the phone?

  2. david says:

    I have an android phone, recommends LTE. I am using a booster. I receive 3-4 bars, However, when I try to call out the LTE and the bars disappear and I receive “no cell network “. I can place phone close to indoor antenna and when LTE drops out I get H or H+ and then can call out. Why does LTE drop??

  3. sid rathore says:

    tooo good sir

  4. Asif Osman says:

    That was a mini education. Cleared more wrong notions!

    Thanks, Lalit.

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