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LTE vs. 5G: Differences in Speed & Performance for Business

Curious about the differences between LTE vs. 5G? We’ll explain, compare, and contrast them and explore which is better for private mobile networks.

Curious about the differences between LTE vs. 5G? We’ll explain, compare, and contrast them and explore which is better for private mobile networks. Here are the differences between LTE vs. 5G.

LTE vs. 5G: The Key Differences

There’s been a lot of technical jargon thrown into the mix the past few years regarding 4G, 5G, and LTE. We’ll start by simplifying precisely what each term represents and why it matters for businesses.

5G stands for Fifth Generation, which is a series of technical specifications defined by the International Telecommunication Union. These technical details outline the exact requirements of what classifies a signal in terms of speed and reliability. You can think of this new generation as a certain quality standard that has to be met.

Currently, there are several specifications that describe what 5G standard has to offer:

  • One millisecond latency. (Ultra-low latency)
  • 10 Gbps data rate.
  • 99.999% availability.
  • 90% reduction in network energy consumption.
  • 10-year battery life for low power devices (Primarily for IoT)
  • Supports one million devices per square kilometer.
  • 100% area coverage.

LTE on the other hand stands for Long Term Evolution and is essentially a marketing term used to describe the last leg of a network's journey in achieving true 5G. For example, when you connect to a network that has “LTE Advanced”, you’re really experiencing standards that are less than true 5G, but still better than most 4G.

How Fast is LTE?

So how fast is LTE? There are no set standards to describe the speeds an LTE network needs to have, since it’s a range between the minimum download speeds. For example, 5G LTE speed could range from just a little faster than 4G’s 100Mbps, to just under 1Gbps. That’s nearly a 10x difference.

How Fast is 5G?

While 5G technology is still evolving, the specifications are on track to allow a 1Gbps data rate. To put that in perspective, you could download a full HD movie in mere seconds. This increased speed is thanks to shorter frequencies in the 3Ghz to 30GHz spectrum, translating into high bandwidth for consumers. These shorter frequencies also help improve capacity, reliability, and latency.

LTE vs. 5G: Latency

One of the most significant improvements when comparing LTE and 5G will be seen in terms of latency. Latency is used to measure the time it takes for data to leave a device and reach its destination. 5G will usher in less than 10 millisecond latency, compared to the average latency of 4G LTE being around 50 milliseconds for round-trip delay.

For the public that will mean better live streaming services, and potentially improved mobile gaming. But for enterprises this opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities. With 1 to 10 millisecond latency, organizations could use private 5G networks to control autonomous robotics infrastructure, devices with AR/VR capabilities for remote assist or ground vehicles with nearly an instantaneous response.

While those possibilities are still a bit in the future, 5G networks allow those types of technologies to be built on top of a private cellular network that can support them.

Why is 5G Good for Business?

The increased speed and capacity that 5G cellular wireless offers can help expand and improve enterprise networks like never before. With the advent of private mobile networks, businesses can now build cellular networks to help connect their IoT devices, network infrastructure, and services in places that were previously never possible.

Many enterprises still use Wi-Fi as a form of wireless communication across their buildings but struggle with reliability and speed as they continue to grow. As a business grows their network needs to be able to scale with them by supporting high mobility and ultra-low latency.

The new network standard also supports a new intelligent architecture that utilizes Radio Access Networks (RAN) to reach even more devices across larger distances. Through the use of open and virtual RANs base stations are no longer constrained to single service providers or complicated infrastructure deployments.

5G services open up the opportunity for improved ultra low latency applications to be processed through multi-access computing (MEC). At Celona, the Celona Edge enables resources to be accessed close to the end user, improving performance on mission-critical applications and devices such as IoT sensors, robotic equipment, and security cameras. MEC helps bridge the gap between the private 5G network and the cloud.

This cloud native network operating system provides the core 5G network while being fully integratable with existing IT infrastructure in a way that is both redundant and hardware agnostic. These features help ensure that 5G deployments supporting critical applications are always online, and abiding by their preset SLAs.

When comparing Wi-Fi vs cellular, enterprises are able to reach more devices and create Quality of Service (QoS) standards that allow for a wider range of targets for predictable performance when compared to using Wi-Fi alone. While not all businesses necessarily need this level of additional speed and reliability, there are a few industries where wireless network segmentation to a clean spectrum of wireless connections would be critical to success.


Mission critical devices such as computer on wheels and connected patient room technologies must be able to maintain a strong network connection no matter where the devices wind up. Private LTE / 5G wireless networks allow these devices to move quickly across campus without much loss or degradation in signal during high frequency of mobility and roaming events between private cellular access points.

Higher Education

In the education space, private mobile networks are able to connect outdoor IoT infrastructure in ways that public cellular infrastructures cannot, given critical privacy and control requirements. Private LTE / 5G wireless networks enable facilities and IT teams to keep new digital initiatives across the campus away from student Wi-Fi and avoid interruptions to student connectivity - and be impacted by unexpected changes in congestion and traffic load.

Energy and Utilities

Whether it’s an oilfield, wind farm, or solar power plant, each facet of the energy industry relies on network connectivity over vast distances. Given the high power levels allowed on its access points, private cellular networks can connect operations that span over miles. This will also allow isolated low power devices in rural areas to communicate with each other as well as the corporate network at far distances.


Having an assembly line cease production even for a few minutes can result in the loss of a significant amount of production value. In operations where efficiency is vital, increased reliability and predictable service level agreement (SLA) performance offered by private LTE / 5G wireless helps factory floors stay connected by using existing IT infrastructure, and operating directly over wireless networks that are already in place.

Will 5G Replace LTE?

5G will not replace 4G LTE anytime soon - and we predict that they devices and the radio infrastructure for both will continue to co-exist for many years to come in private and public cellular wireless network deployments. 5G is still a very new technology, and your LTE phones and devices won’t be considered obsolete for quite some time. Many cell towers and devices still need to be upgraded in order to properly utilize 5G, and while those upgrades are happening now, there will be a multi-year transition period in place.

The Future of LTE and 5G

As more devices are upgraded to 5G compatible chipsets, more cell towers will follow suit and offer 5G to more areas across the country. 5G’s higher frequency and lower latency paves the way for IoT devices, autonomous vehicles, and interconnected smart cities in ways that currently aren’t possible through LTE as we know it today.

LTE networks will likely be supported for years to come, but be slowly phased out similarly to how 2G and 3G services have been switched off over the past few years. 5G is the future of telecommunications, and while the rollout may be slow for the public sector, enterprise networks aren’t waiting to prepare themselves for the inevitable rollout of 5G technologies.

Enterprise networks that need blanketed reliable coverage across campuses, factory floors, and clinics are already choosing to build their own private network to be ready for 5G speeds. Private entities can utilize their own network of access points to provide targeted coverage of both local areas as well as remote offices. When 5G technology is made available in their area, they will already have a private cellular network in place to support it.

The Celona Solution

Celona partners with enterprise organizations to provide them a private LTE and 5G wireless network with a seamless turnkey solution. Plug-and-play private cellular access points can be quickly deployed throughout the campus, while proactive monitoring ensures network SLAs, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met on a per application and device group basis.

Celona’s unique 5G LAN solution relies on cloud networking principles to make implementing private cellular wireless an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing enterprise IT and industrial IoT infrastructures without interrupting business operations.

If you’re building the network for the future of your digital business initiatives, we can help. Check out our private LTE network planner to see what your network would look like when using the private CBRS spectrum, or test-drive the Celona 5G LAN Solution for yourself through our free trial offer.

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