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Difference Between UMTS vs LTE

UMTS which abbreviates to universal Mobile Telecommunication Services is the main technology responsible behind 3G third generation broadband. This technology-enabled packed based transmission of the text, and other multimedia such as audio and video with speed up to 2 megabits per second. Global System for Mobile or GSM is the standard for UMTS. Due to the availability of UMTS the user can be connected to the internet even though they are in the movement without being compromised on the capabilities.

Long Term Evolution or LTE is a technical standard that led to the development of 4G Mobile communication developed by third-generation partnership project 3GPP and this basically provides much better speed in the magnitude of ten times the speed provided by the 3G communications.

This is mainly used in mobiles, smartphones, tablets, wireless hotspots, notebooks, etc.

Head to Head Comparisons Between UMTS vs LTE (Infographics)

Below are the top comparisons between UMTS and LTE:


Key Differences Between UMTS vs LTE

Let us discuss some of the major key differences between UMTS and LTE: In a way, we can say that LTE is the successor of UMTS with better speeds and better communication standards.

Let us see a few basic differences between LTE and UMTS

The main difference is that UMTS supports 3G and LTE can support 4G communication with better speeds compared to the UMTS.
LTE supports the flexible bandwidth with the range in 1.4 to 20 Mhz while UMTS uses the static fixed carrier of frequency 5MHz.
WCDMA- Wideband Code Division Multiple Access is the standard used by 3G communication and Hence UMTS. OFDMA – Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access is used by the long term evolution or LTE.
LTE uses the simplified RAN (Radio Access Network) architecture with only Base stations are known as eNodeB. eNodeB is associated with radio access network known as E-UTRAN and this allows Ues to have a good connection with LTE, while UMTS uses Base stations (NodeB) and also Controllers (RNC). In this UMTS case, the base station captures the functionalities of UMTS RNC and UNTS NB.
2G or 3G- UMTS uses the ‘old voice’ network switched circuit for the communication and this is now a legacy. Now the LTE does not support the switched network circuit calls because t is based on IP protocols and hence faster and reliant and flexible compared to UMTS.

Comparison Table of UMTS vs LTE

Let’s look at the top comparisons between UMTS vs LTE.




Technology Used
UMTS uses the WCDMA- Wideband Code Division Multiple Access

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access

UMTS is the standard for 3G or third generation communications
LTE is the standard for the 4G or fourth generation standards

Data Rate
UMTS is an extension to 2G and offered better data rates compared to the 2G network. This employed packet switching which increased the speeds to a greater extent.

UMTS employed wideband wireless network that increased the call quality. With the advent of UMTS architecture we are able to send large email messages and other required capabilities over the network quite easily.
The data rate is the major differentiating factor between LTE and UMTS. We see a phenomenal increase in the data rates compared to 3G. With the advent of LTE greater support for interactive multimedia, audio and the video is achieved. We can see that with high speed there is also, high capacity and the marginal cost when compared to legacy standards are also much lower.

Base Station
Typically, the UMTS architecture shows that it employs NodeB as base station. NodeB suggests a telecommunication Node in a particular mobile or cellular network. Node B provides the communication between the Ues which can be mobile phones and wider telephone network with enhanced quality of data and voice services.

NodeB uses WCDMD/ TD- SCDMA as the air interface technology. The radio frequency transmitters that are present in the NodeB can be used to communicate directly mobile devices that move freely.
eNodeB or Evolved Node B or E-UTRAN Node B is the main element in the communication of LTE or 4G. It is the hardware that is connected to the mobile phone network, which can be used to communicates easily with the UEs. There is controller RNC – Radio Network The controller associated with Node B base station but these separated controllers are not required by eNodeB. EnodeB uses OFDMA in the architecture of LTE and this enables better data rate and enhanced voice and multimedia features compared with UMTS or 3G.

One of the major accepts of any telecommunication network is the handover from one cell tower to another. UMTS basically employs soft handovers where UE’s communicates with multiple sectors that are managed by the same nodeB. Here it is made sure that at least there is one radio link active for the UE. Soft handover is typically the feature of WCDMA based communication standards.
LTE does not employ soft handover because it employs OFDM architecture where the communication is through frequency divisions. This employs that UE require to resync to another frequency subcarrier when the handover between the network is performed for a UE. Thus even though LTE does not support soft handover still the seamless mobility can be achieved by LTE is by hard handover and theses are instantaneous to minimize the disruption of the call. In hard handover the connection with source is broken before the connection with the source is established and in order to maintain the call the process needs to be instantaneous. This is also called ‘break before make’.


Higher Data Rate compared to 2G
Better call quality and call will be maintained even if the UE is in movement
More bandwidth due to addition of the new radio spectrum

Nearly 10 times higher data rates compared to 3G. Thus providing true broadband speeds
Lower latency
Higher spectrum efficiency with better handling of loads
Improved cost efficiency since based on IP network mode
Enhanced security and quality of voice compared to legacy systems


UMTS and LTE are two main architectures that led to the development of the way the digital communications are handled these days. UMTS primarily responsible for third generation and LTE for fourth generation. In this article we have seen in brief the comparison and key differences with respect to these two standards.

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This is a guide to UMTS vs LTE. Here we discuss the difference between UTMS vs LTE, comparison table with infographics and key differences in detail. You can also go through our other related articles to learn more –

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The post UMTS vs LTE appeared first on EDUCBA.

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