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What Is 5GE, Anyway? Everything Explained

Hey there! If you‘re like me, you love knowing the nitty gritty details about mobile technology. As our phones become more ingrained in our daily lives, it‘s important to understand exactly how they connect to complex cellular networks like 5G and 5GE. In this guide, I‘ll dig deep into 5GE, from how it works to how it‘s different from 5G.

Let‘s start at the beginning – a quick history lesson! The 1st generation mobile networks (retroactively called 1G) arrived in the 1980s, delivering basic analog voice. 2G in the 1990s brought us the world of digital mobile, texting, and data. 3G in the 2000s gave higher speeds for browsing, video calling, and multimedia. Then 4G LTE in 2010s really changed the game, providing the fast, low-latency mobile internet we love today.

Each of these generations required massive infrastructure investment and years to fully roll out. But they enabled incredible innovation in how we communicate. Now we stand at the precipice of the next major evolution – 5G! But in between sits 5GE. Keep reading and I‘ll explain exactly what 5GE is and how it‘s both similar and different to the upcoming 5G revolution.

Defining 5GE Technology

5GE stands for "5G Evolution" and represents an intermediate step between 4G and true 5G. It was introduced in 2019 by AT&T as part of their strategy to begin upgrading towards 5G standards while still leveraging existing 4G/LTE equipment.

So while not technically a standalone new generation, 5GE does incorporate some major enhancements compared to prior 4G:

  • New编码技术 allow up to 2X higher peak data speeds (700+ Mbps vs 300 Mbps on 4G)

  • Advanced antennas double WiFi density from 4 streams to 8 streams using 4×4 MIMO

  • More spectrum aggregated across 3 channels to expand capacity

  • New modulation packs more bits per transmission with 256 QAM

  • Reduced latency below 20ms through optimization and upgrades

The result is a 4G network on steroids! While true 5G will far surpass these capabilities when fully implemented, 5GE brings noticeable improvements in speed, latency, and capacity compared to regular 4G LTE.

According to field tests by PCMag, real-world 5GE download speeds average around 36 Mbps – nearly 2X faster than standard 4G LTE networks [1]. For applications like HD video streaming, downloads, and gaming, those extra megabits make a big difference.

The bottom line is that 5GE delivers an intermediate performance upgrade, bringing tangible benefits to consumers while buying time for the extensive 5G network build-out.

5GE vs 5G – Going Beyond Evolution

Now that we understand 5GE as an enhanced transitional state of 4G, how does it stack up against the real 5G coming down the road? Let‘s dig into the key differences:

Raw Speed

5GE peak speed: 700+ Mbps

5G peak speed: 1-5 Gbps (5G is up to 10x faster than 5GE)

Average Speed

5GE typical speed: 25-50 Mbps

5G typical speed: 100-900 Mbps (5G is 2-10x faster than 5GE)


5GE latency: <20 ms

5G latency: 1-5 ms (up to 20x lower latency for real-time interactivity)


5GE: Uses existing 4G bands

5G: Expands into new high-frequency millimeter wave bands

Network Architecture

5GE: Upgraded 4G LTE infrastructure

5G: Brand new network with small cell densification


5GE: Available for over 200 million Americans as of 2022

5G: Still building out, targeting over 250 million by 2023

Simply put, 5G represents an enormous leap forward from not only 4G LTE but also 5GE. New radio technology, spectrum, infrastructure, and capabilities will utterly transform wireless connectivity. Think self-driving cars, remote surgery, ubiquitous smart devices – this is the world 5G will unlock with its speed, bandwidth, and real-time responsiveness.

But 5G coverage remains very limited for now. As of 2022, Verizon‘s 5G reaches 230 million Americans while AT&T covers over 250 million with 5GE [2]. So until 5G matures, 5GE empowers more users with vastly better performance than regular old 4G LTE.

The Evolution of 5GE Deployment

Now that we‘ve seen what 5GE is and how it compares to 5G, let‘s look at how the technology has been rolled out:

  • 2016 – AT&T begins early 5G lab tests and field trials.

  • 2017 – AT&T starts installing upgraded LTE equipment and touts "5G Evolution" areas.

  • 2018 – AT&T announces plans for 12 city 5G launch by end of 2018. Continues expanding 5GE markets.

  • 2019 – AT&T launches first commercial 5G but availability extremely limited. 5GE coverage expands to over 80 markets.

  • 2020 – AT&T adds low-band 5G nationwide but still lacks robust coverage. 5GE available in over 205 markets.

  • 2021 – AT&T expands mid-band 5G spectrum for faster speeds. But still leverages 5GE in many areas.

  • 2022 and beyond – 5G coverage and performance continues improving as network build-out progresses.

The key takeaway – deploying a transformational 5G network takes an enormous amount of time and money. Rather than wait idly for 5G to reach full maturation, AT&T wisely utilized 5GE as a stopgap measure on existing infrastructure.

This enabled a widespread speed and capability boost years before true 5G could be fully built out. As of 2022, 5GE gives AT&T customers a leg up over Verizon‘s network in areas still awaiting complete 5G modernization.

Should You Be Excited for 5GE?

We‘ve covered what 5GE is, how it works, and AT&T‘s rollout strategy. But should you personally be excited about 5GE? Consider these pros and cons:


  • Faster speeds than regular 4G with less lag – great for streaming, gaming, etc.

  • Wide availability since it utilizes existing LTE equipment.

  • Provides a technology upgrade path while waiting for full 5G.

  • Compatible with newer flagship phones – no special equipment needed.


  • Not true next-gen 5G. Maximum speeds and latency reductions limited.

  • Performance remains well below standards-based 5G coming down the road.

  • Initially confusing marketing regarding 5G versus 5GE.

  • Only available in upgraded areas with select devices.

Overall, I‘d say 5GE offers meaningful-but-moderate improvements in speed and latency compared to legacy 4G LTE. While true 5G will be exponentially faster with stunning new capabilities, 5GE serves as a welcome interim upgrade.

For AT&T customers with new 5GE-enabled smartphones, it puts supercharged LTE performance in your hands today, not years down the road. I‘d call that exciting! But true 5G it is not.

The bottom line: Don‘t believe the hype that 5GE is a 5G replacement. But do appreciate that it provides a faster, lower-latency experience in many areas as AT&T builds toward 5G network modernization. For tech lovers like us, incremental progress is still progress!