What the difference is between 4G, LTE, 3G, HSPA+, and GPRS

We take a look at the wireless data standards which determine how fast your mobile data connections is.

By - February 6, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
4G

Vodacom’s Summer marketing campaign was dealt a blow recently when the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) ruled that the network cannot claim to offer 4G mobile services.

Vodacom described its LTE network as 4G, which resulted in a complaint from Cell C.

Cell C submitted the complaint to the ASA after it was taken to the authority by Vodacom in 2010, following its claim at the time that its 21Mbps HSPA+ network was 4G.

With cellular networks arguing over the definitions of their mobile broadband offerings, it is understandable that consumers may be unsure as to what the differences are between 4G, 3G, LTE, LTE-A, HSDPA, and other network abbreviations.

What is 3G and 4G?

The 3G and 4G labels you see on your smartphone display refer to 3rd Generation and 4th Generation mobile broadband technologies.

As mobile broadband infrastructure improves, including faster data transmission speeds, wireless data standards developed over time are grouped into these generations.

Standards like LTE, HSPA+, and EDGE fall within these generation categories – based on their data transmission speeds and when they were developed.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) oversees cellular telecommunications network technologies, and provides specifications on the different mobile broadband standards.

Its partners include the The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions USA; China Communications Standards Association; The European Telecommunications Standards Institute; and Telecommunications Technology Association Korea.

The table below details the various mobile generations, based on 3GPP’s definitions.

Mobile telecommunications technology
1G Analogue technology, from the 1980s onwards.
2G Introduced voice, SMS, and data services. GSM/GPRS, CDMAOne, PDC, iDEN, IS-136 or D-AMPS, EDGE.
3G EDGE Evolution, CDMA2000 1X/EVDO, HSDPA (3.5G), UMTS-HSPA+ (3.75G), and LTE (3.9G).
4G LTE-Advanced.

What is LTE, LTE-Advanced, GPRS, and HSPA+?

LTE, HSPA+, and similar abbreviations are known as wireless data standards.

3GPP provides speed parameters for the major wireless data standards, as detailed in the table below.

Wireless data standards
GPRS 171kbps
EDGE EDGE: 384kbps / EDGE Evolution: 1.3Mbps
HSDPA 13.4Mbps
HSPA+ 21Mbps – 168Mbps
LTE 300Mbps
LTE-Advanced 3Gbps

More on mobile broadband

New Afrihost Mobile voice products launched

How much mobile data your favourite apps really use

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Would you prefer a 30-hour workweek for 75% pay, or a 40-hour week for full pay?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Guptas to sell all their South African businesses

Gupta-2

The Gupta family has stated it plans to dispose of all the stakes it holds in South African businesses before the end of 2016.

Interview with the inventor of Apple’s first computer

Steve Wozniak

If you haven’t heard of Steve Wozniak, it is because he has been overshadowed by his fellow co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.

Ordering pizza online in South Africa

Pizza

We wanted pizza and we wanted to order it online – this is what South African franchises have to offer.

Where to register to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in South Africa

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Pre-registrations for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 are now available online.

Free MyBroadband Newsletter
×