Long-Term Evolution (LTE) : The Faster Network Technology

Long-Term Evolution (LTE) : The Faster Network Technology

Humankind is moving towards achieving ever-impressive and magical milestones in technology year after year. Long Term Evolution (LTE) is one of those advanced technologies that can help transform the ways in which we communicate.

LTE is commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. It is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, increasing the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements. This technology is a touchstone for seamless and efficient transition of advanced cutting-edge advances that enhance the capacity and speed of wireless data networks.

A wireless broadband technology that is designed to support roaming Internet access via cell phones and handheld devices, LTE offers significant improvements over older cellular communication standards. This is the reason why it is referred to as a 4G (fourth generation) technology along with Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax).

When 3G networks started rolling out, they replaced the 2G system, a network protocol that only allowed the most basic of what we would now call smartphone functionality. Most 2G networks handled phone calls, basic text messaging, and small amounts of data over a protocol called MMS. With the introduction of 3G connectivity, a number of larger data formats became much more accessible, including standard HTML pages, videos, and music.

The speeds were still pretty slow, and mostly required pages and data specially formatted for these slower wireless connections. By 2G standards, the new protocol was speedy, but still didn’t come anywhere close to replacing a home broadband connection.

Long Term Evolution supports browsing Web sites, VoIP and several other IP-based services thanks to its architecture which is based on Internet Protocol (IP). This facility is not extended along many other cellular Internet protocols.

LTE can theoretically support downloads at 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) or more based on experimental trials. However, the actual network bandwidth available to an individual LTE subscriber sharing the service provider’s network with other customers is significantly less.

Read on to discover the unique features and limitless possibilities that LTE offers…

Device Support

Devices with LTE support debuted first in 2010. Smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 5 were one of the earliest on the block to feature LTE support; as also several tablets with cellular network interfaces. Recently, the latest travel routers added considerably to the existing LTE capability. Desktop computers, laptops and similar gadgets do not provide LTE.

A 4G or 5G Protocol?

The networking industry recognizes LTE a 4G technology along with WiMax and HSPA+. None of these qualified as 4G based on the original definition of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standards group, but in December, 2010 the ITU re-defined 4G to include them.

While some marketing professionals and press have labeled LTE-Advanced as 5G, no widely-approved definition of 5G exists to justify the claim.

On the Speed Trail

There is considerable variation in connection speeds when using an LTE network. This usually depends on the customer’s service provider and also the prevalent network traffic. Research has revealed that LTE in the U.S. typically supports downloads (downlink) data rates between 5 and 50 Mbps with uplink (upload) rates between 1 and 20 Mbps. Theoretically, the maximum data rate for standard LTE is 300 Mbps.

Besides, a technology called LTE-Advanced improves greatly on standard LTE by facilitating new wireless transmission capabilities. LTE-Advanced supports a theoretical maximum data rate more than three times that of standard LTE, up to 1 Gbps, allowing customers to enjoy downloads at 100 Mbps or better.

Are Phone Calls possible

LTE communications work over Internet Protocol (IP) with no provision for analog data such as voice. Service providers normally configure their phones to switch between a different communication protocol for phone calls and LTE for data transfers.

However, several voice over IP (VoIP) technologies have been designed to extend LTE to support simultaneous voice and data traffic. Providers are expected to gradually phase these VoIP solutions their LTE networks in the coming years.

Mobile Battery Life at Risk?

There have been instances of users who’ve reported reduced battery life when they enabled LTE functions on their devices. One possible explanation is that battery drain can happen when a device receives a relatively weak LTE signal. This tends to make the device work that much harder to maintain stable connectivity.

When a customer has his or her cell phone on roaming; or frequently changes between LTE and 3G service the battery life tends to decrease as can be expected.

These battery life complications are not limited to LTE, but LTE can exacerbate them as the availability of service can be more limited than other types of cell communication. Battery issues should become a non-factor as the availability and reliability of LTE improves.

Wi-Fi or LTE – Race for Top Spot

It is important to bear in mind that LTE and Wi-Fi serve different purposes. Wi-Fi works optimally for servicing wireless LAN. On the other hand, LTE functions competently over roaming and long-distance communications.

LTE service is fairly widespread, this isn’t as much of a problem, but if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area it’s worth checking to make sure you actually need LTE service where you live and work. Globally, large telecommunication companies have adapted LTE into their networks by installing and upgrading equipment on cell towers and in data centers.

In the ultimate analysis, it must be said that LTE holds vast promise and potential to introduce a path-breaking, pervasive computing and communications experience to a global audience, along with offering a specialized experience to mobile users all over the world.