4G LTE's Low Latency Enhances the Mobile Experience

Understanding how data is transmitted and received.

By on July 15, 2012

4G LTE networks are fast; in fact, they are up to 10 times faster than legacy 3G networks, delivering data to wireless devices at rates of 5 to 12 megabytes per second on the downlink and 2 to 5 megabytes per second on the uplink. That means emails download to wireless devices faster, and sending a picture takes hardly any time at all.

But, there’s another benefit of 4G LTE that’s connected to speed, and it involves a characteristic called latency. That’s the time it takes for all that data to travel through the network, and it’s measured in milliseconds. The lower the rate of latency, or delay in response time, the faster the interaction between device and the network it is on.

Imagine playing a video game on a smartphone or tablet. Now picture one player in California and another in New Jersey, and they are playing against each other. The lower latency on a 4G LTE network means that when one player makes a move, like pressing down on the accelerator in a virtual car, the other player has the chance to react in real time, make a move and pass his competitor to win the race. 

Improved latency means the game can go on without interruption or either player waiting for the next move. The same applies when watching live video of a sporting or news event. The lag time for video to be delivered to the device is greatly improved on 4G LTE, and it can be experienced in real time. 

Latency matters for businesses, too. 4G LTE network latency characteristics create new opportunities for video surveillance, distance learning or telemedicine. For example, doctors are able to have real-time video conversations with patients in remote locations, while at the same time receiving their vital statistics. Or remote workers can have real-time access to manuals or schematics to help speed repairs on equipment located at away facilities.

While connecting people and things wirelessly may have been possible before, the improved latency of 4G LTE networks opens up more possibilities and enhances the mobile experience.