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What Exactly is 5G E and How it Compares to 4G / LTE?

May 08, 2019

What Exactly is 5G E and How it Compares to 4G / LTE?

Advancements in wireless technology have taken over the world and everyone in the industry is clamoring to come up with the next big thing. That next big thing is set to be "5G". It is set to revolutionize the wireless network industry like never before, but what exactly is "5G E", and how does it compare to 4G / LTE? It is an easy question to ask, but one that many people are scratching their heads over. To make it simple, we would like to state the fact that just like 4G is supposed faster than "4G LTE", 5G is supposed to be faster than "5G E". Below, we will start at the beginning to better understand what is being asked and where the technology has come from.

Earlier Networks.

Before we can fully understand 4G, 4G LTE, and 5GE - We must first understand earlier networks. Networks evolve over time and for those that have lived through the dial up era, we can completely understand the phenomenon. First there was dial-up Internet. Speeds were terribly slow and utilized a landline phone connection to carry a signal. Later cable modems and DSL lines were added to bring about larger speed capacities and alleviate the strain of one, singular phone line use.

Today, Internet speeds are faster than they have ever been, but what is more impressive is our adaptation of wireless technology under the same model. The average consumer will recall when 3G was first available to the cell phone industry. 3G speed was on average 348 kbit/s. Some users had the opportunity to get a maximum of 21.6 Mbit/s, depending on the technology of the area in which the phone was networked. Now we still have 3G networks, but they are generally noted for those that go over their prescribed gigabyte limit from their cell phone plan.


4G was a breath of fresh air to those who wanted faster speeds. The inception of 4G promised twice the speed of 3G with a top speed of 30 Mbp/s. The promise was great, but unfortunately, actual speeds did not meet with the proposed criteria. 30 Mbp/s could only be achieved if there was no interference from any other cell phone or wireless device, the user was in a high speed area, and the weather was perfect with no atmospheric and geographic interruptions. Basically, 4G speed was a nice dream, but for the vast majority of people, an unachievable goal. Therefore, Carriers termed their network 4G LTE which literally meant, "Long Term Evolution towards 4G". Therefore, although it did not sound so, 4G LTE was technically not as fast of a network as 4G itself.

Evolving Further?

Due to the fact that a true 4G network was unachievable with current technology, wireless providers had to take a step back and see what could be done. The only real solution seemingly confused the consumers. It seems a little underhanded, but consumers do not take kindly to stepping back numbers. As there was no true 4G speed and the thought of inventing a new 3.5 G or similar name for the network would have negative connotations, 4G LTE was coined or "invented".


The LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. Networks vary when it comes to 4G LTE speed capacity, but typically, speeds range from 3 to 6 Mbps. Depending on weather and other interfering properties, bursts up to 10 Mbps are not uncommon. Still not true 4G, but very impressive for most networks. However, some networks still strove for faster speeds and achieved them with 4G LTE-A. An "A" on the end simply stands for, "Advanced" and this is where true 4G has begun to take place. Peak download speed for 4G LTE A have been estimated up to 50 Mbps, but on average it remains 30 Mbps.

Therefore, almost true 4G concept was only recently achieved with the adaptation of 4G LTE-A, but most consumers are none the wiser as they simply believe that each additional letter or letter phrase makes the original 4G network better. Now we can move onto 5G.

5G Highly Anticipated, but Not Yet a Reality on Smartphones (5G-E, is).

For the better part of the past few years we have heard rumors of the illusive 5G network coming to cell phone providers everywhere. With a lower latency and much faster upper limit, the 5G network is estimated to have speeds of a staggering 1 Gb/s. Although many are excited about the new possibilities included with 5G, we will have to wait a little longer for the true technology to take shape. As with all new forms of technology, old technology has to adapt as well, so current carriers simply do not house the available network along with phones to support the technology. Basically, new 5G phones will be introduced very soon. OnePlus 7 Pro launches May 14, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is launching May 16th and LG V50 ThinQ will launch sometime thereafter. They would be backward compatible to work with the current 4G and 4G LTE network. We will have to wait until 2020 to see 5G come to pure fruition along with actual promised network speeds of 5G (Not just "5G E" which is, in fact, comparable to 4G data transfer speed)!

But Wait, AT&T Already Has 5G, or Do They?

At this point you may be scratching your head now that we have told you 5G will likely not be an option until 2020 because AT&T claims to have the first 5G network on the market. A consensus seems to be rising that it is not quite true. AT&T however is not calling the new system 5G, but rather 5G E - to be technically correct.

AT&T’s 5G E "appears" to claim 5G technology because it contains the term 5G, but as we have recently learned above, sometimes, preemptive jumps call for the company to add letters rather than take away numbers. Truth be told, the 5G E network is quite fast. Average download speeds of 34.65 Mbp/s are nothing to turn your nose up at, but they are only marginally faster than other pre-existing 4G networks. For example, average download speeds for T-Mobile are 34.11 Mbp/s, Verizon comes in at 33.07 Mbp/s, and Sprint houses an average of 31.21 Mbp/s.

AT&T’s claims have proven bad for business as consumers are undeniably upset that they seem to have been duped by the company. Some are even claiming that other networks, introducing more advanced "4G" features (not "4G LTE"), are surpassing AT&T’s current 5G E speeds.


AT&T is indeed offering 5G in very few areas for their home Internet service. Some users claim that they see the 5G network symbol in the status bar of their smartphone too, but that does not actually seem to be the case because they seem to be overlooking that fact that it may be followed by an, “E”. True 5G is on its way, but likely not available until 2020. However, 5G E or 5G Evolution from AT&T is among the fastest network speeds available currently as it is comparable to 4G (versus the slower, "4G LTE"). Do not be dismayed by the seemingly advanced network. It may be marginally faster than 4G.

Companies using clever schemes to mislead their customers is nothing new, and those in the know are assuming that an addition of an, "E" at end of the 5G seems to be a ploy. Interestingly, if that is the case, it may work because when users see 5G E on their phone, they are less inclined to switch carriers or cancel their contracts when they will see 5G on a competing carrier’s phone thinking they have, or almost have 5G already. The truth is, an upgraded 5G is on the way, but current technology must adapt to the impending upgrade in order for it to be a true success. Customers will simply have to stay up to date on current upgrades and understand that 5G E and 4G have about the same data speed in the evolution to true 5G technology. Read more about 5G and AT&T's 5GE to learn everything else there's to know about 5G.

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  • I’ve noticed something with every technical advance in Internet speed and data speed. No matter how good a speed may seem (such as dial-up to broadband) or cell phone technology (3G to 4G), there is always something that comes along and leads to people needing faster speeds and better connectivity. It’s similar to how the telegraph was outdone by the telephone. Later, radio was outdone by television.

    Evan Bradshaw on
  • I just got the iPhone 11 because the 11 pro is already getting reports of the screen getting hot and buzzing, and I can’t see the difference in display unless side by side, but if u just turn up the brightness on the 11 they look almost identical and the phone actually operates better and the 11 pro floor model felt cheap and had a crack in the screen. Anyways I can assure u that when my phone shows 5G E it is at least twice as fast as 4glte and when it shows 5G I actually did a mobile phone speed test and was getting 389.6 down and 490.9 upload. So maybe it’s just the iPhones that can reach higher speeds but I have had AT&T since they changed to Cingular wireless and then back to AT&T and in Charlotte, NC overall they can’t be beat. Verizon I know is good too and sprint is garbage. And T-Mobile just piggybacks off AT&T so there..

    Mike Roby on
  • What is 5GE? It sounds like another marketing gimmick to lure people into buying the highest speed network out there. As you mentioned, 4G and 4GLTE promised A LOT, but didn’t deliver until recently. I foresee the same thing happening, lots of claims about 5G E and how fantastic it is, but a product that underdelivers. So when people ask me what is 5G, I’ll tell them it’s something that’s going to be great, it just hasn’t hit the mark yet.

    Katy Werth on

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