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Difference between 4G and 5G network architecture

The difference between 4G and 5G network architecture lies in the advancements and enhancements introduced in 5G to meet the evolving requirements of wireless communication. Here is a detailed explanation of the key differences:

Network Architecture:

4G: The architecture of 4G networks follows a hierarchical structure with centralized core network elements. It consists of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) that handles various functions such as mobility management, session management, and data routing.

5G: The architecture of 5G networks adopts a flatter, more distributed approach. It introduces the 5G Core Network (5GC), which is based on a Service-Based Architecture (SBA). The SBA decouples network functions into modular services, allowing for scalability, flexibility, and efficient service delivery. The 5GC includes components such as Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF), User Plane Function (UPF), Session Management Function (SMF), Policy Control Function (PCF), and more.

Radio Access Technology:

4G: 4G networks primarily utilize LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology, which uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) for efficient data transmission. Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology is employed to enhance spectral efficiency and increase capacity.

5G: 5G networks introduce new radio access technologies, including enhanced OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) known as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing Access (OFDMA), which allows for more efficient utilization of radio resources. Massive MIMO with beamforming techniques is extensively used to enhance network capacity, coverage, and reliability.

Frequency Spectrum:

4G: 4G networks primarily operate in lower frequency bands, typically below 6 GHz. These bands provide good coverage but have limited bandwidth.

5G: 5G networks utilize a wider range of frequency bands, including lower frequency bands (< 6 GHz), mid-frequency bands (1-6 GHz), and high-frequency bands (mmWave frequencies above 24 GHz). High-frequency bands offer significantly higher bandwidth and capacity but have shorter range and require more advanced antenna technologies.

Network Capacity and Throughput:

4G: 4G networks provide high-speed data connectivity with theoretical peak download speeds of up to several hundred Mbps. However, the actual throughput experienced by users can vary based on network congestion and signal quality.

5G: 5G networks offer significantly higher data rates and increased network capacity. They provide multi-Gbps peak data rates, enabling ultra-fast download and upload speeds. 5G networks also support massive device connectivity, allowing for a large number of IoT devices and sensors to be connected simultaneously.


4G: 4G networks typically have latency ranging from tens to several tens of milliseconds. While this is suitable for many applications, it may not meet the stringent requirements of latency-sensitive services.

5G: 5G networks aim to achieve ultra-low latency, with target latency as low as 1 millisecond. This near-real-time responsiveness is crucial for applications such as autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, and industrial automation.

Network Slicing:

4G: 4G networks do not support network slicing, which allows the creation of multiple virtual networks on a shared physical infrastructure. This limits the ability to tailor network resources and performance to specific use cases.

5G: 5G networks introduce network slicing as a key architectural concept. Network slicing allows the creation of dedicated, isolated virtual networks to cater to different service requirements, providing customizable performance, security, and service level agreements (SLAs).

Overall, the architecture of 5G networks is designed to provide significantly higher data rates, lower latency, increased capacity, and improved flexibility compared to 4G networks. These advancements enable new use cases, such as autonomous vehicles, remote healthcare, smart cities, and immersive virtual reality experiences.