TELECOM | What is the difference between 4G & 5G?

5G, the latest generation of wireless communication, will offer much higher bandwidth and capacity than 4G services.

Smart 5G Technofest

Smart stages 5G Technofest with Nokia - AR-VR rubix cube

By JS Pan General Manager,
Wireless Communication System and Partnership

5G, the latest generation of wireless communication, will offer much higher bandwidth and capacity than 4G services.

5G not only unlocks more wireless frequencies (space) to use between 5G NR (new radio) and mmWave (millimeter wave), it’s also designed to make better use of what’s available between potentially many thousands of users in urban environments.

Whereas 4G LTE-Advanced provides up to 1Gbps gigabits per second (Gbps) performance, 5G has already been tested operating 5-8 with 5G NR and mmWave could provide a potential 10-40Gbps as well. This would unlock new opportunities for performance-hungry applications such as enterprise, data center or cellular backhaul, for example.

5G’s high performance standard is referred to as eMBB — enhanced mobile broadband.


5G could offer a much lower latency than 4G. Ultra-low latency is desirable to consumers who expect a real-time response (video calling, streaming, etc). But 5G could even support some scenarios where an immediate response is not just preferred but mission critical: such as medical applications.

5G’s low-latency focused standard is referred to as URLLC — ultra-reliable, low-latency connections.


4G LTE has grown to accommodate many different technologies under its banner: for example, LWA (LTE-WLAN) aggregation helps to support connectivity in dense environments. 5G refines these steps and builds on prior generations to improve spectral efficiency and connection quality, especially in dense urban environments. Its scope is designed to be broad and applicable not just for high-performance mobile or Enterprise devices, but also down to ultra-low power, long-life and always connected Internet of Things (IoT ) devices too.

Machine type communications

5G is not only designed to meet the needs of everyone from consumers to Enterprise, but also the vastly different requirements of machine-type communication (MTC) required by IoT applications, and other M2M-type (machine-to-machine) connected devices. Whereas IoT in the 4G era is a mix of adapted 2G and 4G technologies, 5G covers LPWA (low power wide area) technologies more specifically with NB-IoT, for example. 5G services are better equipped to handle these varying traffic types and connected devices.


Unlike 4G, 5G technologies are designed to take advantage of cloud-based or virtual Radio Access Networks (called RANs). The RAN technologies would enable enterprises and service providers to set up their own centralized networks. The providers could even take advantage of localized data centers to provide a consistently faster and more reliable internet connection to users.

Device Intelligence

Unlike 4G, 5G has the capability to differentiate between fixed and mobile devices. It uses cognitive radio techniques to identify each device and offer the most appropriate delivery channel. This means each user would get a much more customized internet connection relative to 4G; according to their device capability and local reception environment.

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