A quick guide to 3G, 4G, 5G & beyond

Simply put, 4G is defined as the fourth generation of mobile technology. It followed the 2G and 3G networks that came before it, and, as you may have figured out, 5G technology is the next generation.

2G brought you calls and texts, 3G brought you mobile broadband data which gave your smart phone smarts, and 4G brings you increased data speeds allowing you to stream HD videos and scroll to your heart’s content on your mobile – even when you’re on the bus for your morning commute.

4G is up to 10 times faster than standard 3G. Because we all love a good acronym, there’s another name that’s sometimes used for 4G services, which is LTE, and this stands for Long Term Evolution.

When 5G becomes more widely available, we’ll use it to work alongside our existing 3G and 4G data networks to give you the absolute best possible mobile experience.

What do I need to get 4G on 2degrees?

To get 4G goodness, you need to be in a 2degrees 4G coverage area and have a 4G-capable phone or device.

As well as being 4G capable, it will need to be compatible with one of more of the following frequencies: LTE 1800 MHz, LTE 900 MHz or LTE 700 MHz.

All phones sold by 2degrees and most phones sold in New Zealand (except parallel imported phones) are compatible, but if you're not sure what frequencies your phone runs on, you can check out the specs on the manufacturer's site.

How do I know if my phone is connected to 4G?

You may notice that your phone can display 3G, 4G, LTE or even 4G LTE at the top of the screen next to the signal strength bar. This indicates which type of signal you’re receiving. It’s important to remember that this can change depending on where you are in relation to our network towers. For example, if you’re video calling on your phone and move between rooms in your home, you may notice your signal strength and type change from 3G to 4G LTE. If you see this, it’s probably a good idea to stick to the room that has the most grunt for your Zoom.

How fast is 4G?

There is no hard and fast answer here, but we can tell you that 4G has the ability to deliver data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. Actual speeds vary depending on factors such as your location, phone and network coverage and congestion.

Does 4G use more data than 3G?

Our data charges are the same regardless of whether you’re using 4G, 4G LTE or 3G, however, since 4G is much faster than standard 3G, it can use data at a faster rate.

Check out this handy data usage table to see the average data consumed by activities such as sending an email or streaming a video.

Remember that your 2degrees mobile plan comes with Carryover Data and that you can easily get more data by buying a Data Add-on, and by making the most of our Data Clock app.

You can also easily track your data usage by logging in to Your 2degrees, and clicking on Your Usage.

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of mobile technology. With 5G, you’ll see much faster download and upload speeds and you’ll notice the time it takes devices to communicate with the network or the time it takes data to travel from one point to another (we call this latency) significantly decreases.

Whereas 4G and LTE operate in two radio wave spectrums, 5G adds a third spectrum to the mix. If you’re in a big city you may have experienced connectivity slowing down during busy times of the day. With an added spectrum, that connectivity slowdown will be eliminated – just like adding another lane to a busy motorway.

Does 2degrees have 5G?

2degrees currently offers 5G Mobile on selected devices in limited areas of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. 5G Mobile creates faster mobile download speeds, faster upload speeds, and opens a new world of gaming for you to explore. However, at the moment 5G Mobile is not replacing 4G LTE. Instead, it will be used in tandem with existing technologies.

We’re also working on rolling out 5G broadband. With 5G broadband, we hope to get more people online at the same time without clogging up the pipes. 5G broadband will also be useful for Kiwis who can’t get Fibre to gain access to high-speed connectivity.

I sometimes see VoLTE displayed on my phone, is it the same as 4G LTE?

4G doesn’t just improve data speeds, calls can now be made over an LTE network. VoLTE is short for Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which means you can make high definition voice calls when you're connected to the 4G LTE data network.

VoLTE allows us to bring you improved coverage, clarity and connectivity for your voice calls using data. These calls connect quicker and you’ll enjoy a superior call quality.

It’s a significant improvement for voice calling and you can read more about VoLTE here.

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