In 2020, the average U.S. household downloaded over 400 gigabytes of data. With the development of quicker communications, we’re consuming information faster than ever before. This only pushes for even better services, and internet providers are doing everything they can to get an advantage over the competition.

When trying to choose the best mobile internet, you might compare 5G and 5GE. The two services differ in internet speeds and smartphone compatibility, but the reason why isn’t so straightforward. Continue reading for everything you need to know about the two networks. 

5G vs. 5GE: A Side-by-Side Comparison

5G5GE
First Used20182019
Companies That Use ItAll major internet providersAT&T
Download Speed100 Mbps average20 Gbps peak20 Mbps average100Mbps
SignificanceExtended broadband, ultra-reliable communications, IoTIntroduced mobile broadband
Smartphone CompatibilityiPhone 12 and up, Samsung Galaxy S10 and up, Xiaomi Mi 10 and up, OnePlus 7 and up, Google Pixel 5 and upAll smartphones released since 2009

5G vs 5GE: Must-Know Facts

5G

  • 5G stands for 5th Generation.
  • It is the most advanced mobile service on the market.
  • G5 offers peak download speeds of 20 Gbps and average speeds of 100 Mbps.
  • It gets its speed and reliability from a wide spectrum of wavelengths.
  • It requires a new model smartphone to use.

5GE

  • 5GE stands for 5th Generation Evolution.
  • It’s not a 5G network, but actually an AT&T marketing tactic.
  • It’s a re-titled version of 4G LTE-A (more on what this is below).
  • 5GE has peak download speeds of about 100Mpbs and average speeds of 20Mbps.
  • It’s compatible with more smartphones than 5G networks.

5G vs. 5GE: What’s the Difference?

At first glance, you might expect that 5G and 5GE are pretty straightforward; however, it’s a bit convoluted. This comparison includes sneaky marketing tactics and two different generations of internet on totally different wavelengths.

5G: The Next Generation

5th Generation (5G) is the latest rendition of mobile networks. Its development stems from the base analog voice that we started using in the 1980s. We’ve come a long way since then; we switched from analog to digital, introduced data and broadband, and can now send and receive massive amounts of information in a matter of seconds. 

Society propelled 5G when we started consuming media through our phones. Social media was in the palm of our hands, and we could see our family photos from the bathroom. The market boomed, and we needed more. So, in 2018, T-Mobile launched the next generation of mobile internet; with new wavelengths, we were able to not only watch videos but stream it in high high-quality with incredible latency.

5G Wavelengths 

The newest generation of mobile internet finds its speed on different wavelengths. Whereas 4G uses low range bands (sub-3 GHz), 5G can utilize both these lower bands and also bands at 25 GHz+. It uses a variety of these higher wavelengths to not only offer quicker download speeds but to also unclog each wavelength.

A downside to higher wavelengths, however, is that the quicker the frequency, the shorter the length. This means that while download speeds are faster, the coverage is smaller. To resolve this, some 5G networks are experimenting with mid-band lengths, such as 12 GHz. These wavelengths seem to hit a sweet spot, offering great internet speeds while also greatly increasing the coverage range.

Telecommunication connections above smart city. Futuristic cityscape concept for internet of things (IoT), fintech, blockchain, 5G LTE network, wifi hotspot access, cyber security, digital technology
If your phone is from 2018 or later, then you likely are compatible with 5G technology.

5G Network Speeds

Internet providers use a spectrum of wavelengths to provide some of the fastest mobile internet of our time. 5G users can experience download speeds of up to 20 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) in areas with less congestion. At that speed, you could download the average HD movie in less than two seconds.

In busy areas, users can expect an average download speed of about 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps). This is incredible considering the amount of people that use the wavelength at a time. Because of their system, 5G internet providers can sustain 100 times the amount of traffic on a network compared to 4G.

5G Modern Applications

Much more than just a service for browsing social media and watching videos, 5G was developed with world-changing processes in mind. As society continues to progress, interaction with our devices increases. And that’s with more than just our phones.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting critical tools in healthcare, supply chains, and homeland security to high-speed internet for quick and accurate reactions. Some examples of how 5G is improving industries include:

  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Connected contact lenses
  • WiFi connected robots
  • Automized transactions
  • Machine failure monitoring

One drawback to 5G networks is that it requires updated devices that can connect to all these new wavelengths. If your old smartphone was released prior to late 2018, it likely won’t work with the service. 

5GE: A Confusing History

If 5G is doing all this, you might think that 5GE can do even more. However, that’s not exactly the case. This network is a little convoluted, and to really understand the 5G vs. 5GE debate, we have to go backward in time. 

In 2018, in the months before T-Mobile launched its first network, 5G LTE had everyone excited. They were experiencing download speeds faster than ever before, and internet providers were hustling to get their networks up. 

AT&T, which ran slightly behind Verizon, came up with an excellent marketing strategy. While they developed their 5G network, the company released 5th Generation Evolution (5GE). 

The announcement grabbed the attention of the entire market, and people were switching service providers to use this new, exclusive internet. What they discovered, however, was that 5GE didn’t live up toits expectations.

What 5GE Actually Is

The tactic was brilliant; AT&T never stated that it was 5G, but that it was the next evolution of mobile internet. In reality, it was a retitled version of 4G LTE-A, which is only slightly faster than 4G. True, it was an evolution, but not the evolution people thought they were getting.

Now there are a lot of letters going on with these services, so let’s break them down:

  • Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a developmental version of the upcoming generation. For example, 4G LTE is a network that experiments with 4G technology. It’s faster than 3G but slower than 4G.
  • LTE-A is the advanced version of LTE, which essentially meets 4G technology and continues to develop its processes. This network is equal to or slightly faster than 4G.
  • 5GE is a marketing tactic that sold people on quicker internet. It was AT&T’s version of 4G LTE-A and should not be considered 5G LTE.

How is 5GE Used Today?

AT&T stopped advertising 5GE in 2020, long after it released its actual 5G network. However, they continue to use the abbreviation because it makes their service seem faster. AT&T customers will still see it on their phones, likely in areas where they can’t connect to 5G.

It’s a little tricky, but it also makes people think that their old phones are compatible with 5G when they really aren’t. They’ll continue to receive download speeds of about 20 Mbps, but at least they won’t have to update their devices. 

5G vs. 5GE: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

When comparing 5G and 5GE, there really is no competition.

5G is the most advanced mobile network on the market, allowing for download speeds as fast as 20 Gbps. The only caveat is that in order to use the network, you must have a phone that can receive the wavelengths. For the right device, look for smartphones released after late 2018.

However, if you’re adamant about keeping your old phone, 5GE will work just fine. But as far as what network you’ll actually use depends on your location more than anything. Ultimately, you’ll use whatever network the internet provider has available. 

Want to learn about the internet service that actually competes with 5G? Check out Starlink vs Dish Internet: Which is Better?

5G vs 5GE: What Are the Actual Differences? Do They Matter? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is 5G and 5GE the same?

5G is the newest generation of mobile internet. 5GE is a rebranded version of 4G LTE-A released by AT&T in 2019.

Why is 5GE so slow?

5GE is not a 5G network, but actually 4G LTE-A. It has a peak download speed of about 100Mbps and an average speed of about 20Mbps.

Why do I have 5GE instead of 5G?

If you’re on AT&T’s wireless networks, you might have 5GE in areas where the company’s 5G service is inaccessible.

Is AT&T 5GE faster than LTE?

LTE refers to the long-term evolution of the particular generation, making it a slower version. So 5GE, which is actually a 4G LTE-A network, is faster than 4G LTE but slower than 5G LTE.

Why does my phone say LTE when I have 5G?

When you are in a location where 5G services are unavailable (such as in rural areas), you’ll likely connect to the best available network. In some cases, that could be LTE.

What is the difference between 4G and 5G?

4G was released in 2009 and introduced mobile broadband, which allowed people to view media on their phones. 5G was released in 2018 and broadened its spectrum of wavelengths, which greatly increased the broadband speed and capacity.

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