What is the Difference Between 5G NR and 4G LTE?

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Someone may have heard or seen 5G NR and 4G LTE, so what are 5G NR and 4G LTE, and what is the difference between 5G NR and 4G LTE?

1.What is 4G LTE?

What does “4G LTE” stand for? 4G LTE is short for “fourth generation long-term evolution.” So it’s actually two terms combined. First, “4G” represents the fourth generation of mobile technology, the next big advancement after 3G. A 4G system must provide capabilities defined by ITU in IMT Advanced. And “long-term evolution,” or “LTE,” is industry jargon used to describe the particular type of 4G that delivers the fastest mobile internet experience. 4G LTE is one of several competing 4G standards along with Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) and WiMax (IEEE 802.16).

2.What does 5G NR mean?

5G New Radio (NR) is the wireless standard that will become the foundation for the next generation of mobile networks. 5G NR development is part of continuous mobile broadband evolution process to meet the requirements of 5G as outlined by IMT-2020, similar to evolution of 3G and 4G wireless technologies. In past 3G and 4G connected people, where as future 5G will connect everything means 5G NR will be connecting  our smartphones, cars, meters, wearables and etc. It aims to make wireless broadband same as of wireline with the fiber-like performance at a significantly lower cost-per-bit. With new levels of latency, reliability, and security, 5G NR will scale to efficiently connect the massive Internet of Things (IoT), and will offer new types of mission-critical services.

3.4G LTE vs. 5G NR

A Short comparison of 5G and 4G technologies is given is table below:

Technology Data Rates Latency Mobility Support Spectrum Efficiency Users Density Energy Efficiency
5G (NR) Avg 100 Mb/s Peak 20 Gb/s  ~ 1 ms > 500 Km/h x3 Better
DL- 30 bits/Hz UL- 15bits/Hz
 1000K/square Km x100 Better
4G (LTE) Avg 25 Mb/s Peak 300 Mb/s  ~10- 50 ms Upto 350 Km/h DL – 6 bits/Hz UL- 4 Bits/Hz ~ 2K / square Km Moderate

5G New Radio and 4G LTE Parameter Level Comparison:

Parameter 4G Long Term Evolution 5G New Radio
Full Name Long Term Evolution New Radio
3GPP Release Release 8 – Release 14 (LTE, LTE-A, LTE-Pro) Release 15 onward
Frequency Range < 6GHz Upto 52.6 GHz
Services Voice, MBB, IoT Voice, eMBB, Low Latency Application, Massive IoT
Waveform • DL: CP -OFDM




Max Carrier Bandwidth 20 MHz • Below >6 GHz: 100 MHz;

• Above6 GHz: 400 MHz

Subcarrier Spacing (SCS) 15 KHz 15 KHz, 30 KHz, 60 KHz, 120 KHz, 240KHz
Cylic Prefix (CP) Normal CP; Extended CP • Normal CP for all SCSs;

• Extended CP for 60KHzs SCS only

Max Number of Subcarriers
Per Carrier
1200 3300
Radio Frame Length 10 ms 10 ms
Slot Size 2/7/14 OFDM symbols 1-14 OFDM symbols (including both slot & mini-slot)
UL/DL Ratio Change • Semi-static change with 5ms, 10ms periodicity;

• Dynamic change per -10ms

• Semi-static change with 0.5ms, 0.625ms, 1.25ms, 2.5ms, 5ms, 10ms periodicity

• Dynamic change per 1/2/5/10/20ms change

Synchronization Signals • PSS: 62 ZC sequence

• SSS: 62 m-sequence

• Periodicity: 5ms

• PSS: 127 m-sequence

• SSS: 127 Gold-sequence

• Periodicity: 20 ms for intial access;{5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160 } ms for CONNECTED/IDLE mode

PBCH • 4-symbol x 72 subcarriers

• Payload: 40 bits, including CRC bits

• Periodicity: 10ms

• 2-symbol x 288 subcarriers;

• Payload: 56 bits, including CRC bits

• Periodicity: 20 ms for intial access; {5, 10,20,40,80,160} ms for CONNECTED/IDLE non-standalone cases

SS -block Sweeping 1 • 4 for <3GHz;

• 8 for 3-6GHz;

• 64 for 6-52.6GHz

RACH • PRACH: 839 ZC sequence with 1.25 KHz;

• 4-step RACH

• Long PRACH: 839 ZC sequence with {15,30,60,120} KHz

• 4-step RACH

MIMO Transmission • Digital beamforming;

• Diversity Tx:SFBC;

• Open-loop TX:CDD with precoder

• Closed-loop TX:Spatial multiplexing

• Hybrid (analog = digital) beamforming

• Open-loop Tx: 1-port PC (UE transparent)

• Closed-loop Tx: Spatial multiplexing

Reference Signals • DL:CRS, DMRS, CSI-RS;


• DL: DMRS, PT-RS (Phase tracking RS) CSI-RS, TRS;


Channel Coding • PBCH/PDCCH; TBCC;

• PDSCH/PUSCH: Turbo code;

• PUCCH: RM block code

• PBCH/PDCCH/PUCCH: Polar code


PDCCH • Multiplexing with data: FDM

• Tx: Distributed + SFBC

• Demodulation: CRS

• Multiplexing with data: TDM/FDM

• Tx1 Distributed – precoding (UE transparent)

• Tx2 Localied = precoding (UE transparent)

PUCCH • Multiplexing with data: FDM;

• PUCCH size: 14 OFDM symbols

• Multiplexing with data: TDM/FDM

• Long PUCCH size: 4-14 OFDM smbols

• Short PUCCH size: 1-2 OFDM symbols

HARQ Round-trip Time FDD: 9ms; TDD: ≥ 8ms 0.25-16 ms
Wideband Operations • Single Carrier: Up to 20 MHz

• Full carrier BW initial access & IDLE

• No UE bandwidth adaptation

• CA: Up to 32 carriers;

• DC: Up to 64 carriers

• Single Carrier: Up to 100 MHz or 400 MHz

• Narrow-band anchor initial access & IDLE

• UE bandwidth adaptation allowed

• CA: Up to 16 carriers;

• DC: up to 32 carriers

Mobility • CRS-based RSRP • SSS-based RSRP for cell or beam;

• CSI-RS based RSRP for beam or transmission point

The above is the basic difference between 5G NR and 4G LTE, I hope it helps you.

If you have different opinions on 5G NR and 4G LTE, please leave your comments.

Learn More:

5G NR and List of 5G NR networks

New Climber! China’s 5G Signal Ascends to the Summit of Mount Everest

Can We Develop 6G Directly, without Developing 5G Technology?

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