What's the difference between 4G LTE and 5G? Understanding network speeds

Want faster network speeds? Let's take a look at 3G, 4G LTE and 5G and what those terms actually mean for Verizon customers in terms of network speeds.

Don’t forget to check out how fast your network speed is right now and which high-speed networks are available in your area.

Network Basics: 3G, 4G and 5G

First, the basics: The "G" stands for generation, meaning 5G is the most current generation of cell phone network technology. 3G networks were the first ones fast enough to make smartphones practical. Before that, mobile networks were not able to support all the things that make smartphones great, like streaming videos, surfing the web and downloading music. 3G allowed customers to do all of these things for the first time, but is now no longer available.

But, it's 4G that really allowed smartphone technology to spread its wings. That's because it's much faster than 3G. 4G opened new doors for downloading games or streaming videos in ways that were previously not practical.

Now, 5G is where the world is headed. Verizon 5G is available in over 2700 cities nationwide, performs comparably to 4G LTE and is improving. And Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, which is available in select areas, provides speeds up to 10x faster than 4G LTE, meaning users on Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network can stream, download, and surf the web faster than ever before.1

As networks evolved from 3G to 4G LTE, and now 5G, Verizon has taken steps to improve performance.

What does “LTE” mean? Verizon 4G LTE explained.

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It's a term used for the particular type of 4G that delivers a fast mobile Internet experience. You'll usually see it called 4G LTE (often found in the corner of your phone screen, where you see the classic service "bars").

Using a 4G smartphone on Verizon’s 4G LTE network means you can, for example, download files from the Internet up to 10 times faster than with 3G. For 4G LTE to work, all you need is a smartphone that’s configured to work with it.

You can find all of Verizon’s 4G LTE phones here. These phones will connect automatically with the 4G LTE network where available.

4G vs 5G: why 5G is the future.

5G is the next stage in network evolution. Verizon 5G is available in over 2700 cities, performs like 4G LTE and is improving.  And with 5G Ultra Wideband, which is available in over 1700 cities, you can get speeds up to 10x faster than what you have now and your downloads take a fraction of the time – get a movie in minutes, or a song in seconds.2 And, 5G Ultra Wideband is faster and safer than public WiFi.3 So you can say goodbye to slow speeds when you need to get online, on the go. Be your own hotspot and worry less about hackers or snoopers.

Check Verizon’s 5G coverage map to see if  Verizon 5G is available in your area. If it is, browse 5G phones currently available to find the best model for you.

Stay connected with Verizon.

When choosing a mobile phone and network, you want to make sure you’re up to speed. Take your mobile experience to the next level with Verizon, as they continue to build networks that keep people connected.

Preguntas frecuentes

5G is the next step in mobile technology and will eventually replace 4G LTE. Para consumidores y negocios, la red 5G puede brindar una experiencia más rápida y mejor, con una mayor capacidad de respuesta.

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband offers speeds to users up to 10x faster than typical 4G LTE4 speeds, meaning users can stream, download, and surf the web faster and with less interruptions than ever before.

5G UW stands for "5G Ultra Wideband". 5G Ultra Wideband is our high performing 5G - up to 10x faster than typical 4G LTE speeds. It is available in select areas. 5G has similar performance rates to 4G LTE, is available in over 2700 cities, and is improving.

To see if 5G is available in your area, visit our coverage map. Looking for 5G home internet? Click here to see if 5G home internet is available in your area.

Verizon has many plans tailored to customers age 55 and above in the state of Florida. Visit https://www.verizon.com/plans/55plus/ to learn more. For those who live outside the state of Florida, there are plenty of deals on Verizon plans you can shop now to get the best rates on a new phone plan.

Most modern phones are 5G capable. You can shop a wide variety of cell phones that support 5G now at https://www.verizon.com/5g/phones/.

Having a 5G capable phone allows you to connect to a 5G network. With Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network you can experience blazing-fast speeds. Visit https://www.verizon.com/5g/ to learn more.

Phones that aren’t 5G capable will still work, but will use other network connections, such as 4G LTE.

4G phones still work on 4G LTE networks for now, but eventually they will become obsolete. Consider how long you plan to keep your phone; if you plan to keep your phone for longer than a year or so, it might be a good idea to get a phone that is 5G compatible. Shop our current deals to see which 5G phones might be right for you.

Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network utilizes small cells, or nodes, in addition to traditional towers. 5G small cells are similar to 4G towers in form and function. Verizon is building thousands of additional 5G nodes to maximize and deliver 5G millimeter wave technology to our customers. Since 5G small cells are smaller than a traditional macro cell tower, they can exist more discreetly. 5G's small cells support the high frequency millimeter waves needed for the ultra-low latency and high data speeds of 5G.

Other related terms: LTE meaning, what is LTE, LTE network, lte vs 5G, lte vs 4G, LTE mobile network

1. Comparison is based on 5G Ultra Wideband speeds to median Verizon 4G LTE speeds.

2. Download speeds may vary depending upon network and coverage conditions, and content optimization for 5G Ultra Wideband

3. Public Wifi speeds from March 2021 based on Opensignal independent analysis of measurements recorded during the period December 19, 2020 – March 19, 2021 © Opensignal Limited.

4. En comparación con las velocidades promedio de Verizon 4G LTE.

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