Mobile Data Rates

By | 2012-06-25

Those little letters next to your signal bars? They tell you what the connection type is. What possible use the manufacturers think they are, I have no idea. I’m an engineer, and I have no idea what the relative speeds of the various data modes are on my mobile.

For example, is “H” better than “3”? Is “E” better than “G”?

I’ve looked it up, and am writing the answers here for your referencing pleasure.

  • Obsolete. “CSD” and “HSCSD”. These have no symbol to show a data connection as the data was sent in-band over (effectively) a voice channel. Think of these as “dial up Internet” of the mobile world. Data rates from 9.6 kbit/s to 43.2 kbit/s, similar to analogue modems on landlines.

  • “G” short for “GPRS” short for “General Packet Radio Service”, considered “2.5G”. Data rates of 56–114 kilobits per second. WAPwas introduced at the same time.

  • “E” short for “EDGE”, considered “2.75G” or “pre–3G”. Data rates of 236.8 kbit/s.

  • Evolved EDGE” not used. Data rates of 400 kbit/s

  • “3G” short for “3G”. 2 Mbit/s. It’s not entirely clear to me what technology this represents.

  • “H” short for “HSPA” sometimes called “3.5G”, “3G+” or “turbo 3G”. 14–42 Mbit/s.

  • “H+” short for “HSPA+”. 126.6–168 Mbit/s.

  • “LTE” or “HSOPA” or “e-UTRA”, not entirely compliant with the 4G standards so is often considered “3.9G”. 100 Mbit/s.

  • “4G” short for “4G”, sometimes called “WiMax” or “LTE Advanced”. 1 Gbit/s

I’ve not seen “LTE” on a phone, but I have seen “4G”. I’ve got a horrible feeling that the liars in the marketing departments of phone companies will be writing “4G” when they should be writing “LTE”. There are no “4G” networks in the UK yet, the spectrum hasn’t even been auctioned. O2 are testing in Slough.

Phew. Now you know. What you’ll see in the UK, in order of link speed: “G”, “E”, “3G”, “H”, “H+”.

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