The ABCs of 2G, 3G, 4G, & 4G LTE Technology

The Evolution of Mobile Generations

When we talk about boosting your cellular signal, you may notice that we specify 4G LTE coverage on our newest products. Other products may specify 2G, 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE coverage in their product description. On our website, we include that in our product descriptions so you know for sure you’re covered by our product, even if you have an older model of cell phone or live in one of the areas still not covered by 4G LTE coverage. If you’re in the market for a cell phone signal booster, you probably have come across products espousing 2G, 3G, 4G coverage, or 4G LTE coverage. Curious about what all of these mean? Read on.





G is for Generation

First of all, the “G” stands for “Generation.” Each generation of cell phone technology is supposed to provide a faster, more reliable, and more secure cellular network. Each evolution brings us faster data speeds. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R) sets the standards of what each generation’s parameters should be. The easiest way to explain the difference between different generations is a brief timeline of cellular evolution.


1G coverage could only make simple phone calls. It is unlikely to find any products referred to as 1G, as this was not a term used until after 2G rolled out into the marketplace.

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2G delivered digital signal and 250Kbps (kilobits per second) speed. The wireless networks switch from analog to digital networks. Supported simple text messaging, voice, and small data transfers.

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3G upgraded data speeds to at least 200 Kbps to 3 Mbps (Megabits per second) speed. This is the general network standard that gave us true smartphones capable of web browsing, photo sharing, and emails, but the speeds were such that most early mobile browsers could only handle specially designed mobile pages. This technology came nowhere near to replacing or competing with web browsing speeds on traditional personal computers.


4G can provide up to 100 Mbps for mobile access, and up to 1 Gbps for wireless access.  Cellular providers who offer HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) up to 6 Mbps claim to offer a 4G network. When 4G came out in 2008, the networks couldn’t actually offer full 4G coverage because the increase in speed was too much for the then-current technology to handle. Most previously 3G networks have been upgraded to the point of being considered proper 4G networks.


LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and refers not to a specific technology but to the fact that technology is always evolving and the general goal of cellular providers is “improving wireless broadband speeds to meet demand.” This specification calls for a downlink speed of up to 300Mbps and uplink speed of up to 75 Mbps. A newer technology called LTE-A (A for Advanced) is now currently the king in connection speeds for available cellular technology but is not yet widely available.


The future of 5G is a little unclear, only because the ITU-R hasn’t fully defined what standards 5G will be held to. Most cellular providers have vowed to have it out by 2020, but you can expect that like 4G, there will be gaps in coverage until the infrastructure to support 5G technology becomes widespread. Some companies are already testing out 5G in select cities, but true 5G is still a few years away, with full 5G coverage still further out.  

Whatever data coverage you have, when you buy a cell phone signal booster from HiBoost, you can rest assured you’ll be covered. All of HiBoost’s amplifiers are backward compatible so that even if someone has an older model phone, they’ll get boosted signal bars. What this means is a 4G LTE booster will support 2G, 3G, and 4G, but an older model that supports 3G technology can only support 2G & 3G. So while we can’t magically give a flip phone video streaming capabilities, we can ensure that everyone no matter what model phone or carrier gets better benefits of what their phone can achieve. If you have more questions about what a cell phone signal booster can do to solve your cellular signal woes, feel free to contact us.



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