Apr 25, 2023

5G. 4G. 3G. What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

5G. 4G. 3G. What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

It’s everywhere: the announcements of the 3G shutdown, talk of 4G, and the new, improved – will someone please explain to me what it is! – 5G. Ads on television and radio. Ads in magazines. On enormous billboards.

Ads everywhere and none of them explaining:

What 5G is; why poor 3G has to be shut down; and where 4G fits in. It’s enough to make you want to crawl under a rock and not come out until someone sounds the "all clear."

Well, consider the “all clear!” sounded. Right here, right now, we’re going to take the mystery out of all this G business. 3G 4G and 5G we're going to explain it all. And believe it or not, it’s simple.

What's the differences between 5g, 4g, and 3g, and why should I care?

For starters, we’re going to break down 3g 4G and 5G. We’ll circle back to poor, beleaguered, 3G later. Because by then its situation will be crystal clear.

Let’s address the G business in 3G 4G and 5G first

Young mom n a yellow dress holding a baby while cooking.

G stands for generation of cellular communication and it goes like this: 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G = first generation, second generation, third generation, fourth generation, and fifth generation. Each new generation of mobile technology is an improvement in communication speed and other factors over the last. We've now entered the fifth generation of mobile network technology and, having said that it should come as no surprise that….

5G, or the fifth generation, is faster than 4G

Happy older couple smiling at pictures on a cell phone.

Of course, it is, each new generation is an improvement over previous generations. But 5G has a lot more going for it than just its higher speeds including upload speeds.

Among other pluses, 5G cellular networks also offer better bandwidth than 4G

Bandwidth is the amount of data, say, photos of your children or grandchildren, that can be transmitted over a network connection. And coupled with low latency and higher data rates which allow you to download content more quickly, 5G trumps 4G every time.

Poor 4G. Can’t you just feel it going the way of the Dodo like sweet 3G?

Even though 4G and 5G can transmit those sweet smiling faces you adore in milliseconds, 5G will be the first generation being able to do so in 1 millisecond. Will the average person be able to tell the difference in speed? (Not that we think you're an average person!) Maybe.

5G mobile networks also offer more for mobile devices

Young woman in a red and black plaid shirt standing in a corn field holding a tablet.

Stronger connectivity, better average speeds, lower latency, and more reliability. That means your calls go through no matter where you’re calling from, or where you’re calling to. And that’s not all.

5G is also capable of handling hundreds of thousands of people being on their cell phones at the exact same time with far fewer disruptions in service. In geek speak, this is known as network density, and 5G’s is huge in comparison to 4G. To put it in layman’s terms – with 4G (fourth generation) if you’re at a pro sports game and try to send photos or texts, your smartphone probably runs more slowly than usual due to the number of other people doing the same thing at the same time in the same place with their smartphones.

With 5G (fifth generation) of wireless technology you can forget those slow speeds, dropped calls and lousy connections. You’ll never again be able to tell your boss or your mother-in-law “You’re breaking up! I’ll call you as soon as I get reception!”

Hmm. Maybe we need to rethink this 5G business.

Man in an orange jacket sitting on a rock in the woods sending a text.

5G though is a huge deal for wireless network companies and, more importantly, people who count on their smartphones to stay connected with their kids and grandkids, and who want to be able to call for help when their car breaks down in the middle of the night, on a dark road, in some little town they find themselves lost in. Sorry. One of us has been watching far too much Netflix. But you get my point. The first time you experience 5G, you'll see a huge difference between it and 4G. 5G is ten times faster and this means there's a significant increase in accessibility and internet access - no matter where you are.

5G is the pinnacle, (sort of like those self driving cars that are coming down the pike). Which is why 3G has to go bye-bye to make room for this incredible new technology.

But more about 3G… in a minute.

Right now, let’s delve deeper into the differences between 5G and 4G. You know you want to geek out and get into the nitty gritty.

The nitty gritty

Smiling family of four sitting on the front of a car taking a selfie.

So 5G is stronger, significantly faster, so reliable it leaps tall buildings in a single bound (actually it does better than that: it can blow right through walls and buildings) and is the Superman of mobile devices and communication.

But how does it actually work?

Image is of a city at night with stars indicating cellular communication.

All cellular communication works by sending information over the air into radio waves. 5G does as well, but at much higher, much cleaner frequencies. This means those photos of your kids, new car, new haircut, new house, are transmitted faster over your mobile network than ever before.

5G’s with the band. Actually, 3 bands

Remember how we mentioned that bandwidth is the amount of data, say, photos of your children or grandchildren, that can be transmitted over a mobile network connection? 5G actually has three bands – a high band, a low band, and a mid-band.

The different bands operate at different speeds

Dark haired young woman with two dogs standing in a field talking on a cell phone.

That’s another one of the reasons it’s better than 4G (fourth generation). As you can probably guess, the different bands operate at different speeds. The high speed band operates fastest, the low band operates slowest (relatively speaking; it’s still incredibly fast), and the mid-band operates at a speed between those two. Now here’s what’s cool about that.

At some point, each band could be dedicated to a different user group. One for consumers, one for businesses, and the third for…. a variety of industries, or security measures, or… who knows? There are so many options and opportunities for 5G to improve our lives. (Of course, even though the world of wireless communication is always evolving, don't plan on seeing 6G any time soon.)

Plus 5G can be sliced and diced for further flexibility

Along with the three different bands, 5G networks can be used as separate mobile networks. This is called mobile network slicing. (Now we’re really geeking out!) The result of this capability is that each of those separate mobile networks can be used for a different purpose and a different form of mobile communication. 4G could never provide this kind of flexibility and the opportunities for new mobile communication improvements and advancements that come with it as it just didn't possess the broadband capabilities.

So, 5G will replace 4G, right?

At some point, yes. But not in the near future. As we mentioned, 4G is more available, and 5G is pretty much still in the starting block. For the time being, both mobile networks will be utilized which is fine as most phones are 4G and 5G compatible.

How can I be sure my phone is 4G or 5G compatible?

You can check the box or manual, which should be accurate, but for safety’s sake, we suggest you go online and ask Google. I did and was promptly informed that my iPhone 11 Pro Max is, sadly, not 5G compatible.

So I guess I need a 5G phone to get 5G, right? 

Image is of the Unted States at night indicating nationwide cell coverage.

Exactly. But now that you're a 5G, 4G, 3G genius, get really smart and save money. With Life Wireless!

To get free wireless service and a free cellphone, read on. 

What our customers are saying:       

"Life Wireless has been great. I have used it so many times for appointments and finding the proper care providers for my needs as well as for my family's needs. Thank you so much Life Wireless!"  Rebecca L., KY

Life Wireless offers government subsidized free cellular service through the Affordable Connectivity Program to qualifying individuals and families. And, if you’re unemployed or participate in a government benefit program such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, or WIC, you already qualify for this federally funded free cellular service. It’s not difficult to qualify for free cellular service from Life Wireless, if you meet certain requirements, and it takes just a few minutes to complete the application.

About the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

As we mentioned above, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a government benefit program operated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that provides discounts on monthly broadband Internet access service. ACP benefits may be obtained from any participating provider of your choice including Life Wireless. Only one member of a household can participate in the program and the service cannot be transferred to another family member or individual.

Because many families struggle to afford cell phones and Internet access, both of which are vital to daily life, the Federal Government offers ACP and another program called Lifeline. Using both doubles your connectivity and enables you as a parent or guardian to stay connected to doctors, employers, family and friends, and your student’s school.

About Lifeline

Lifeline is a federal program created to help qualified households pay for connectivity services such as wireless and internet plans. As with the Affordable Connectivity Program, only one member of a household can participate in the program and the service cannot be transferred to another family member or individual.

Examples of one household:

  • A married couple that lives together
  • A parent/guardian and child who live together
  • An adult who lives with friends or family who financially support him/her

Each of these are one household and must share one benefit.

Examples of more than one household:

  • Four roommates who live together but do not share money are four households. They can have one benefit each, for a total of four benefits.
  • 30 seniors who live in an assisted-living home are 30 households. They can have one benefit each, for a total of 30 total benefits.

Each state has different eligibility requirements such as receiving government assistance or having a household income that is at or below the federal poverty level for the state in which you reside.

In general though, you are qualified to receive Lifeline if you participate in any of the programs listed here:

  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid (not Medicare)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veteran's Pension or Survivor's Pension Benefit

Additionally, if you are a resident of a Federally-recognized Tribal land, you may qualify under the following programs:

  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribally Administered TANF
  • Head Start (if you meet the income-qualifying standards)

Even if you’re paying just $20 a month for cell service, wouldn’t it be great to have that $240 to spend on groceries? If you apply for Lifeline and are approved, you’ll receive:

  • FREE Unlimited Talk & Text
  • FREE 15GB Data (+ more data for California residents)
  • FREE Smartphone (or bring your own)

Pair Lifeline with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and DOUBLE your connectivity

If you’re approved for Lifeline and you sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), you get two sources of free talk, text, and unlimited data that you can split between two phones. That means free cell service for you and free cell service for someone you love. Like your student. This is a terrific opportunity to provide him or her with talk, text, unlimited data, the ability to stay in touch with you, and access to the biggest library in the world: the internet.

Of course you don’t have to split the service between two phones, you can keep it all on one. But it’s a wonderful option if your spouse, student or relative needs a phone but has been unable to get one due to the expense.

Whichever option you choose – to keep the data on one phone or split it between two – Life Wireless will make sure you receive the free talk, text, and unlimited data to help you stay connected.

Option 1: Combine Your Data

Activate Lifeline and ACP on the same device and receive unlimited talk, text, and data, plus 5GB of mobile hotspot.

Option 2: Split Your Data
Split your data between two phones or supported devices and you’ll have one device with ACP’s free talk, text, and 6GB of data and a second device with Lifeline’s talk, text, and 4.5GB of data (6GB of data in California).

What our customers are saying:

Without this phone I would be lost. It has helped me stay in contact with my daughter’s specialist. I schedule her appointments and they can call back if there are any complications with her results. Thank you, Life Wireless.” Amanda Z., PA

Additional, important, details

Life Wireless service is a prepaid service offered to those eligible for ACP discount benefits and those eligible for Lifeline benefits.  To maintain your service and benefits, you need to:

  • activate your service by calling someone,
  • initiating data usage (by going on Facebook, for example), or
  • by responding to instructions from Life Wireless to activate the service.

To keep your account active, you need to use the service at least once during any 30-day period by:

  • calling someone,
  • answering a call from someone other than Life Wireless,
  • sending a text message,
  • using cellular data (again, by going on Facebook or Amazon, for example),
  • purchasing additional service from Life Wireless,
  • or by responding to a direct contact from Life Wireless confirming that you want to continue receiving service from Life Wireless.

Should your service goes unused for 30 days, you will no longer be eligible for Lifeline benefits and your service may be suspended (allowing only 911 calls and calls to the Life Wireless's customer care center), and subject to a 15-day cure period during which you must use the service (as described above) in order to fully re-activate your service, keep your telephone number and remain enrolled in the ACP.

For questions about Life Wireless, visit our Contact Us page here. To enroll now, use the Life Wireless Online Enrollment form.

Quick facts about Life Wireless:

You can add more minutes and data

You can purchase additional minutes or data one of the following ways:

  • Go to www.LifeWireless.com and click "Add Minutes/Data"
  • If you have a smart phone, go to your MyLifeWireless app and click "Add Minutes".
  • Call Customer Service at 1-888-543-3620, or by dialing 611 on your Life Wireless phone.
  • You can also go to any Moneygram location and use Receive Code: 7924

You can track your minutes

Your minutes replenish each month on your anniversary date before end of the day. For example if you signed up and received your minutes on the 12th of the month, your minutes will replenish every month on the 12th of the month.

You can check your account balance the following ways:

  • Go to www.LifeWireless.com and click "My Account"
  • Go to your MyLifeWireless app on your phone, and click "Check Balance"
  • Call Customer Service at 1-888-543-3620, or by dialing 611 on your Life Wireless phone.

You can keep your current phone number!

If your application is approved, you have the option to keep your current phone number.

Once you receive your Life Wireless phone in the mail, call Life Wireless Customer Service at 1-888-543-3620 and a representative will assist you in keeping your current number. Make sure that you don't call from your Lifeline phone and have your account number and password from your previous carrier handy.

What our customers are saying:       

"Life Wireless has been great. I have used it so many times for appointments and finding the proper care providers for my needs as well as for my family's needs. Thank you so much Life Wireless!"  Rebecca L., KY

Without this phone I would be lost. It has helped me stay in contact with my daughter’s specialist. I schedule her appointments and they can call back if there are any complications with her results. Thank you, Life Wireless.” Amanda Z., PA
 
“I've been looking for apartments, doctor’s offices, and school phone numbers, and my data provided has been a tremendous help in gaining access to this information. I'm very grateful for this service.” Maria R. AZ

Apply for free cellular service with Life Wireless now. You’ll be glad you did.


Posted 1 year ago