JS Pan, General Manager, Wireless Communication System and Partnership, MediaTekBlog

What is the difference between 4G and 5G?

By JS Pan, General Manager, Wireless Communication System and Partnership, MediaTek

A study commissioned by Cisco observed that telecom operators in the Philippines could expect their revenues to increase by nearly $650 million by 2025 due to the nationwide rollout of the 5G technology.

The study, which was carried out by American global management consulting firm Kearney, showed that the introduction of 5G will result in 50 times higher internet speed in the Philippines. In addition, it pointed to the fact that this will be achieved through the combination of three distinctive features — high throughput, ultra-low latency, and low power connectivity.

In the last decade, the country’s users have often raised concerns about slow and disruptive internet connections. The Philippines has the highest social media users in the world; however, it ranks 107th in terms of mobile internet speed of around 15 Mbps, which is significantly slower than the global average. Last year, Globe Telecom, the largest mobile network operator in the Philippines and one of the largest fixed-line and broadband networks, launched 5G technology in the Philippines. The telco aims to offer high-speed internet to tens of thousands of Filipinos in key urban areas in the country.

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In regards to 5G, here are some differences between the new technology and 4G.


5G will offer much higher bandwidth and capacity than 4G services. 5G not only unlocks more wireless frequencies (space) to use between 5G NR (new radio) and mmWave (millimeter wave), it’s also designed to make better use of what’s available between potentially many thousands of users in urban environments.

Whereas 4G LTE Advanced provides up to 1Gbps performance, 5G has already been tested operating 5-8Gbps with 5G NR and mmWave can provide a potential 10-40Gbps as well. This will unlock new opportunities for performance-hungry applications such as Enterprise, Data Center, or cellular backhaul, for example.

5G’s high-performance standard is referred to as eMBB: enhanced mobile broadband.


5G can offer much lower latency than 4G. Ultra-low latency is desirable to consumers who expect a real-time response (video calling, streaming, etc), however, 5G can even support some scenarios where an immediate response is not just preferred but mission-critical: such as medical applications.

5G’s low-latency focused standard is referred to as URLLC: ultra-reliable, low-latency connections.


4G LTE has grown to accommodate many different technologies under its banner: for example, LWA (LTE-WLAN) aggregation helps to support connectivity in dense environments. 5G refines these steps and builds on prior generations to improve spectral efficiency and connection quality, especially in dense urban environments. Its scope is designed to be broad and applicable not just for high-performance mobile or enterprise devices, but also down to ultra-low power, long-life, and always-connected IoT devices too.

Machine Type Communications:

5G is not only designed to meet the needs of everyone from consumers to enterprise, but also the vastly different requirements of machine-type communication (MTC) required by IoT applications, and other M2M-type (machine-to-machine) connected devices. Whereas IoT in the 4G era is a mix of adapted 2G and 4G technologies, 5G covers LPWA (low power wide area) technologies more specifically with NB-IoT, for example. 5G services are better equipped to handle these varying traffic types and connected devices.


Unlike 4G, 5G technologies are designed to take advantage of cloud-based or virtual Radio Access Networks (called RANs). The RAN technologies will enable enterprises and service providers to set up their own centralized networks. The providers can even take advantage of localized data centers to provide a consistently faster and more reliable internet connection to users.

Device Intelligence:

Unlike 4G, 5G has the capability to differentiate between fixed and mobile devices. It uses cognitive radio techniques to identify each device and offer the most appropriate delivery channel. This means each user will get a much more customized internet connection relative to 4G; according to their device capability and local reception environment.