Slow Cell Service? Switch to 3G

Slow Cell Service? Switch to 3G

High population density can result in a bottleneck for your cellular device signal, but making one minor adjustment to your settings can get you back up and connected..

Whether it’s a massive conference, a stadium sports event or a music festival, your cellular network service will only work as fast as the signal allows. This means the more people sending tweets, the less bandwidth is available for you and me. I was working at EDC Las Vegas 2019 this past year and with over 160,000 people all recording stories on their Instagram, my LTE network wasn’t able to send or receive texts, let alone get onto social media. So how does this happen and what can we do to get back up and browsing?

What’s the difference between LTE and 3G?

LTE, 4G, 3G (and the controversial 5G) are all standard languages of communication for cellular devices. I won’t get too deep into the technical stuff- mostly because I don’t want to sound like an idiot. This isn’t school and I’m not your teacher so here’s a Wikipedia article if you want to get down to the nitti gritti of how it all works. For the purposes of this Mod, all you need to know is that the G stands for generation and LTE stands for Long Term Evolution.

These standard languages for cellular communication consist of frequency bands, similar to that of radios. The main difference between LTE and 3G is that they each use different frequency bands, with LTE being the latest and most able to handle larger traffic and faster processing. Most mobile cellular devices today use LTE, however there's an option to turn off LTE and switch back to previous, less effective generations of cellular communication. Now why would you want to do that?

Slow Cell Service? Switch to 3G

When you’re attending a heavily populated event like a concert or conference, the LTE cellular frequency bands are under immense processing strain, as thousands of users are transmitting data to and from their devices. Filming and sending snapchats, Instagram stories, Tweets, Facebook updates, etc, all require your device to connect to the internet via the same cellular frequencies and, like rush hour on your local freeway, traffic jams can occur.

On our cellular devices, this traffic jam shows up as the inability to post, or the “try again later” error. With most modern cellular devices utilizing LTE or 4G, we can assume these bands are getting pretty tied up in dense, crowded areas. However if we switch and go down to an older generation, we can get on a different set of frequencies and make that viral post everyone is trying to send. So how do you switch from LTE/4G to an older generation like 3G?

How to switch from LTE to 3G

On iPhone, turning off LTE/4G is pretty straightforward:

  • Open iPhone settings
  • Select “cellular”
  • Select “cellular options”
  • Toggle “enable LTE”

By turning LTE/4G off, your phone will automatically revert to 3G, which will update at the of your iPhone. It turns out that while 4G and LTE are quite similar, there are a few minor differences. The process of turning off LTE on an Android device is similar to iPhone- located in the settings > cellular > network options, though the exact setting location might vary depending on which device you have.

When you switch to 3G, you are going to experience a slightly slower cellular connection than LTE on a good day. Simply put, that’s because the technology is older and our devices are newer, so they require more complex processing/data transferring to function properly. Still, switching down to 3G might be just the trick for sending out that viral meme everyone's obsessing over.

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Tagged in : TechCellular

Millennial Moderator Author

Aleksey Weyman

Aleksey Weyman is a web designer, music artist and creator of Millennial Moderator