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When you’re looking to buy a new phone, you might find that there are way too many acronyms to wrap your head around. There’s CDMA, GSM, LTE, WiMax, and the list goes on. What does any of it mean? It can be easier to focus simply on the differences in these networks as they apply to you directly.

The simplest explanation is that the “G” in 4G stands for “generation,” because 4G is the fourth generation of mobile data technology, as defined by the radio sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R). LTE stands for “Long-term Evolution” and applies more generally to the idea of improving wireless broadband speeds to meet increasing demand.

WHAT IS 3G?

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.

WHAT IS 4G?

The ITU-R set standards for 4G connectivity in March 2008, requiring all services described as 4G to adhere to a set of speed and connection standards. For mobile use, including smartphones and tablets, connection speeds need to have a peak of at least 100 megabits per second, and for more stationary uses such as mobile hot spots, at least 1 gigabit per second.

When these standards were announced, these speeds were unheard of in the practical world, because they were intended as a target for technology developers, a point in the future that marked a significant jump over the current technology. Over time, the systems that power these networks have caught up, not just in the sense that new broadcasting methods have found their way into products, but the previously established 3G networks have been improved to the point that they can be classified as 4G.

Voice Over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE)

VoLTE primarily works on IP-based networks and only supports packet switching. The data received from a circuit-switched cellular network such as the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) or a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network will be converted into network packets before being broadcast. VoLTE uses IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) based networks to offer these services. It will not work on networks that are not compatible with or that have not integrated IMS within their core architecture. The services that can be provisioned using VoLTE include video calling, voice calling, and multimedia streaming and sharing services.

Voice over long-term evolution (Voice over LTE/VoLTE) is a technology specification that defines the standards and procedures for delivering voice communication and data over 4G LTE networks. It is one method for creating, provisioning and managing high-speed voice, video and messaging services on a 4G wireless network for mobile and portable devices.

What’s the Difference Between 4G LTE & VoLTE?

Until a few months ago, everyone thought 4G LTE is the next big thing in India. But, thanks to Reliance Jio, now the term (technology) 4G VoLTE has become much more popular. However, only a few tech enthusiasts know about what the 4G VoLTE technology is and hence in this article, we’ll try to clear your confusions regarding the 4G LTE and 4G VoLTE. 4G means the fourth generation of data technology for mobile networks, while the LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. Together, 4G LTE data technology helps the cellular network providers to offer the high speed data for all the 4G supported phones. In fact, a 4G Internet is 4 to 5x faster than the 3G technology. Through LTE, you’ll only be able to surf the web i.e., use the data. So, all the other services like voice calls, SMS messages will not be served through the LTE network (they use 2G/3G technologies instead).

Currently, 4G is offered in different bands such as 850 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2300 MHz and 700 MHz.

What is 4G VoLTE?

The VoLTE on the other hand stands for Voice Over LTE. It means that unlike the 4G LTE, even the calls, SMS and web browsing will be served through the 4G VoLTE technology. Saying so, you’ll be using the Internet data plan to make calls, send SMS or browse the web all together.

What are the Benefits of using 4G VoLTE over 4G LTE?

There are a variety of reasons why using the latest VoLTE technology over the LTE is beneficial. Below a few popular reasons.

  • High quality voice calls

  • High definition video calls

  • Better battery life

  • Quick call connection

  • Increased VoIP functionality

  • Instant switching between voice and video calls

As of now, Jio is the only carrier with PAN India license to use the 2300 MHz spectrum.

What’s the Difference between 4G LTE and 4G VoLTE?

With 4G LTE, one can use the data (Internet) to surf the web, use the apps that require Internet connection etc…All the calls and SMS services will be carried through either 2G or 3G network.

Fortunately, the VoLTE or Voice Over LTE, as the name suggests, handles all the services like browsing, voice calls, SMS etc…through the data/Internet. This enables you to make HD voice calls over the web (similar to the WhatsApp voice calling, which make calls over the IP network).

In summary, you can use LTE without VoLTE but by definition, it is not possible to deliver VoLTE without LTE.

However, the only disadvantage is that when you’re travelling to remote places in India where there is no reliable 4G network, you’ll be switched back to the 2G/3G network (whichever is available).

Currently, Reliance Jio is the only cellular provider that is offering the 4G VoLTE services in India. Rest of the big players like Airtel, Idea, BSNL etc are readying themselves to convert to the new technology in the coming days.

Here is What GeekyRanjith has to say about the difference between 4G LTE and Reliance Jio 4G

WHAT IS LTE?

LTE stands for Long-term Evolution, and isn’t as much a technology as it is the path followed to achieve 4G speeds. As it stands, most of the time when your phone displays the “4G” symbol in the upper right corner, it doesn’t really mean it. When the ITU-R set the minimum speeds for 4G, they were a bit unreachable, despite the amount of money tech manufacturers put into achieving them. In response, the regulating body decided that LTE, the name given to the technology used in pursuit of those standards, could be labeled as 4G if it provided a substantial improvement over the 3G technology.

Immediately networks began advertising their connections as 4G LTE, a marketing technique that allowed them to claim next-gen connectivity without having to reach the actual required number first. (It would be like the U.S. claiming they had landed on the moon because they got pretty close and the spaceship that got them there was a lot better than the previous ship.) It’s not entirely trickery though, despite inconsistent speeds depending on location and network, the difference between 3G and 4G is immediately noticeable.

To make matters more confusing, you’ll also likely come across LTE-A at some point. This stands for Long-term Evolution Advanced, and it takes us a step closer to proper 4G. It offers faster speeds and greater stability than normal LTE. It’s also backward compatible and works by aggregating channels, so instead of connecting to the strongest signal in your vicinity, you can download data from multiple sources at the same time.