LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the predominant form of 4G/5G technology available in the UK; the types of equipment which utilise this technology are divided into different classifications based on their maximum data throughput capacities, similar in convention to the different categories of Ethernet cable.
Although there are a lot of different 4G/5G LTE routers classifications, over 20 in total, only a handful of them are commonly found in the current market. The first of these is Cat 4, a technology classification in which uplink data rates of up to 50Mbps and downlink data rates of up to 150Mbps are available via two LTE antennas (1x2 stream). Cat 4 is one of the most widespread classifications found in 4G LTE routers and is usually all that’s needed for standard domestic installations.
The next common 4G LTE router classification is Cat 6, a category in which uplink speeds of 75Mbps and downlink speeds of 300Mbps are available. This standard uses a 2x2 stream and therefore up to four LTE antennas can be used. Cat 12 is the following common 4G LTE classification, providing uplink speeds of up to 100Mbps and downlink speeds of up to 600Mbps through a 4x2 stream with up to eight LTE antennas in use.
The final emerging LTE router classification is Cat 22, a category only typically seen with 5G routers. This classification supports uplink data rates of up to 316Mbps and downlink data rates of up to 2500Mbps, putting it significantly faster than all the older 4G variants, and requiring eight antennas to achieve maximum performance. This classification also uses stream aggregation facilitated by the mobile mast itself to utilise many streams together.
Article by Daniel Coombs