5G vs. Gigabit LTE: 79% of organizations don't know the difference

5G NR, the standards-based, "true" 5G being deployed around the world, is a different technology than LTE Advanced, which is already deployed worldwide to deliver Gigabit-class speeds.

Philadelphia's smart city plan includes 5G and forward-thinking policies Smart city projects in Philadelphia include 5G, drone deployments, IoT, and public computing centers, said Ellen Hwang, the city's program manager for innovation management.

Of all the potential circumstances that could stymie deployment of 5G, lack of awareness is likely not the first that comes to mind, considering the relentless hype cycle around 5G network deployments. However, only 22% of telecoms professionals indicated they have a very good understanding of the differences between Gigabit-class LTE (LTE Advanced) and 5G mobile networks, according to a survey conducted by wireless networking firm Cradlepoint at the 5G World Summit in London. 

5G NR, the standards-based, "true" 5G being deployed around the world, is a different technology than LTE Advanced. LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro offer features like 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM, which allow Gigabit-level speeds to be delivered to compatible phones. As the E in Long Term Evolution (LTE) implies, these technologies are a natural evolution to the existing LTE standard, and require less upfront investment for mobile network operators than 5G NR.

SEE: Special report: How 5G will transform business (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Only 18% of respondents indicated they fully understand the term "Gigabit Class LTE" and how it applies to their organization. Some 19% said they have never heard the term, while 27% said they have heard it, but do not understand it.

In the US, the distinction between 5G and LTE Advanced has been distorted significantly by AT&T's decision to retroactively brand phones as being "5G E" capable. Fundamentally, and by AT&T's own admission, 5G E is LTE. An AT&T spokesperson previously confirmed to TechRepublic that this service is delivered using the LTE Advanced standard. 

Per the survey, 55% of respondents said they believe they are fully or somewhat prepared to adopt 5G technology, though 65% believe security concerns will affect how quickly their organization will affect Gigabit Class LTE or 5G technology. Another 8% indicate such concerns already have affected their adoption.

For more on 5G, check out "T-Mobile and Sprint promise low-cost 5G coverage for rural America, aiding remote workers," and TechRepublic's cheat sheet for 5G mobile networks and for 5G smartphones.

Also see

5G Network Internet Mobile Wireless Business concept.5G standard of modern signal transmission technology.

Image: iStockphoto/LHG

By James Sanders

James Sanders is a staff technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI/ML, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on ...