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What are LTE categories

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LTE Categories

Following the recent update of our “Networking 101: A Glossary of Terms” help guide, has launched a new weekly “What Is” blog series to provide even more insight into the networking industry.

In this week’s edition, we look at LTE categories:

What are LTE categories?

LTE categories, also known as UE classes, refer to different types of LTE (or 4G) connectivity. Operating separately, the different categories offer different properties for the LTE delivered – most commonly they are measured and compared on download and upload speeds. The following table summarises the different speeds per category:

LTE Categories

The categories are needed to ensure that the base station can communicate correctly with the user equipment receiving the signal.


Internet of Things applications require much lower data rates, often only in short bursts, and typically the remote IoT device needs to be low power. Due to these specific needs, and the growing development of IoT technology connected over cellular, a new category was developed. CAT 0 has reduced performance to meet the lower data rate requirement, while significantly reducing complexity and current consumption. CAT 0 LTE offers 1 Mbps download and upload speeds.

When to use which category?

The most common forms of LTE which are available today are CAT 3, 4 and 6. The majority of enterprise-grade routers and gateways, such as those available from Westbase Technology, are typically CAT 3, also known as standard LTE. In recent months however Cradlepoint became the first wide-area-wireless manufacturer to bring a CAT 6, also known as LTE-Advanced, routing platform for enterprises to market, followed by Sierra’s release of a CAT 6 in-vehicle router.

With today’s ready availability of CAT 6 products, the answer to “which one?” becomes very simple. LTE-Advanced / CAT 6 should always be the first choice of device as it offers improved capacity and speeds, and therefore networking capabilities. To find out why this is, go to our “Importance of CAT 6” news article.

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