If you have a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, you probably use 3G or 4G Internet to get online. But what do 3G and 4G actually mean – and what’s the difference between them? Let’s take a look.
4G vs. 3G Internet
The “G” in 3G and 4G Internet stands for generation. It’s how we distinguish between older and newer Internet technologies. 3G Internet stands for third generation, while 4G is fourth generation.
1G and 2G Internet technologies were used with the first analog and digital cell phones. The first mobile broadband service, 3G Internet, hit the market in 2003. Today, 3G Internet speeds range from 200 Kbps to dozens of times faster than that.
4G Internet came after 3G, promising even faster speeds and more network capacity for mobile devices. There are many different kinds of 4G technologies, including HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX and LTE.
Now, 4G has largely phased out 3G Internet, and most new phones and devices only use 4G Internet.
Is 4G really faster?
4G Internet is newer than 3G. But is it really faster? That’s debatable.
There are a lot of different 4G technologies, with no real standards to define what it means. That makes it hard to say exactly how fast 4G Internet is. 4G Internet will always be faster than 3G Internet from the same provider, but the same may not be true across different 4G Internet service providers.
LTE is considered to be the fastest 4G Internet technology. It’s used by most large mobile Internet providers. 4G LTE speeds usually range between 5 and 15 Mbps, with peak speeds near 50 Mbps. That’s comparable to most home Internet services today.
Which speed do you need?
Most of today’s devices use 4G Internet technology. If you’re in the market for a new gadget, you should invest in – it’s faster and better for streaming, surfing and everything in between. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use 3G Internet devices for your favorite mobile activities. Stream TV and video, listen to music, get directions and more using both 3G and 4G Internet.