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What is 4G (4th Generation and 4G LTE

With the 4G you can navigate with your mobile at speeds close to those of the optical fiber. We explain what the 4G is, what advantages it has, drawbacks and why they sometimes call it LTE

What is 4G?4G light

The 4G is a type of internet connection from the mobile. Its name refers to the fourth generation mobile, as evolution of 3G, which is the technology that until now was present in most phones. The main improvement of the 4G is that it allows you to reach speeds, at least 10 times faster than the current 3G.

What are the benefits of 4G?

Faster than ADSL. While the 3G barely allows to reach 10 Mb / s, with the 4G ideally we will be able to sail at speeds of up to 100 Mb / s. Watching a video, downloading an application or just opening a website is much faster. In the future the 4G is expected to reach speeds of up to 1 Gb / s (ten times more than the optical fiber of Movistar!). However, all these speeds are maximum and in practice are lower.

Best to play online. We can videoconference or play online with more fluency. In addition to speed, the 4G has the advantage of working better with real-time connections. The delay of connections, which is called ping or latency, is 75% lower than 3G. So you will hardly notice cuts in your conversations online or online games.

Less saturation. Another advantage of 4G, not very well known, is that it reduces network congestion. So more users can be connected at the same time in an area. Or what is the same, the 4G can minimize the traditional phone collapse each New Year or make our connection more stable throughout the day.

Free. And best of all is that 4G is free in Spain. Vodafone and Yoigo do not charge an extra for it in their rates of mobile internet. And Orange includes it without cost with some of them.

What are the disadvantages of 4G?

Compatible phone. You can only use the 4G if your phone is compatible. This is not the usual, since currently most phones only work with 3G. In the market you can already find some 4G models, but most are high end and their prices are high. Although there are also some cheaper options. For more information, you can consult our guide on 4G phones.

Limited coverage. The 4G is in full deployment and at the moment only some cities have it. As announced by the companies, Yoigo is the operator that in the medium term will have more coverage, as it expects to reach its population with more than 70,000 inhabitants by the end of 2013 (105 cities in total). However, Yoigo uses a type of waves that do not allow to reach speeds as high as the rest of operators. In addition, during this first phase of deployment, with all companies indoor coverage will be limited. Here you can see the 4G coverage schedule of the different operators.

It does not surpass the optical fiber. Although the operators announce speeds of up to 150 Mb, the truth is that the 4G is not at the same level of the optical fiber. If you get a 100 Mb optical fiber connection, that’s the speed you actually get at home. In contrast, with mobile internet, speed depends on the number of people connected to an antenna or the coverage you have at any time. So although the speed at some point in time can be up to 100 Mb, the average speed is closer to 20 Mb. However, this is still much better than 3G and most ADSL connections.


ADSL is still necessary. As fast as your 4G connection is, mobile internet rates continue to have a limit on the data that we can download. We will be able to consume content faster, but not more quantity. So to download, watch videos and navigate without limits we will continue to need ADSL. Although if you do not download or watch many videos, 4G itself could be a respectable substitute for ADSL.

What is LTE and what does it have to do with 4G?

LTE is the mobile internet technology that operators are really deploying in Spain. That is, if you buy a phone, you will have to make sure it is compatible with LTE. In fact, this is what appears many times on the phone screen when you connect to a 4G network. It is similar to what happens with 3G, which is a family with different types of connections according to its speed (such as UMTS, HSPA or HSPA +, which you may have also seen on the screen of your smartphone). In the same sense, the 4G includes several types of connections, among them the LTE.


There is actually a debate about whether LTE should be considered 4G. This is because the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency that ensures the homogenization of telecommunications in the world, decided in 2003 that for something to be 4G (what they call IMT-Advanced) must be Capable of reaching speeds up to 1 Gb / s (1,024 Mb / s). This is something that the current LTE does not allow and therefore could not be considered 4G. However, ITU has since been somewhat ambiguous with regard to LTE and many operators have also decided to call it 4G. In the background has more commercial hook.

The only conventional technology that can be properly called 4G is called LTE Advanced, which reaches speeds of up to 3 Gb / s. But, at the moment, there are hardly any compatible phones and is only present in Russia and South Korea. As a curiosity, Germany was one of the first countries to have LTE and there it is not marketed as 4G (simply LTE). On the other hand, the HSPA + technology in Spain is still called 3G, in Mexico the operator Iusacell markets it as 4G. But in practice in most countries operators have decided to baptize their LTE networks as 4G.

Beyond the name, having in the palm of your hand a device capable of reaching speeds comparable to those of fiber optics can mean a before and after in how we use the internet. Worth? If you use mobile internet, yes. Especially because there is an additional cost in Spain and the improvement over the current 3G is clear. However, you must have a compatible phone and live in a city with coverage. But more and more models are available at lower prices and in a few months most large cities will have this technology. The 4G is not a fashion but has come to stay.

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