LoRas throughput varies between class types

Data transmission in cellular networks

Before the typical cellular networks there were already radio networks and radio systems for data transmission. But the typical mobile radio was originally designed for the transmission of voice and was only suitable to a limited extent for the transmission of data.

The first mobile network with a high network coverage was GSM, in which CSD (Circuit Switched Data) was available for circuit-switched data transmission and SMS (Short Message Service) as a connectionless short message service (only 160 characters per message). The GSM cellular network was later expanded with GPRS and EDGE for packet-switching data transmission. With UMTS, a mobile radio technology was then introduced which, in addition to voice transmission, basically also enabled data transmission. With HSPA and HSPA +, the UMTS cellular network was expanded to include processes for a higher data rate that was comparable to the DSL connections of the time. With LTE, the first globally applicable mobile radio technology was introduced that was completely geared towards the transmission of data.

Higher bandwidth and the mobile Internet have triggered increasing mobility and the use of small, powerful mobile devices.
But a high bandwidth is not enough. Different applications make different demands on the cellular network.


The requirements for cellular networks are influenced by the interests of various private and industrial end users, manufacturers, network operators and network equipment providers.

  • Capacity: Networking billions of people and trillions of things and machines
  • Latency: between 1 and 5 ms (real-time communication of time-critical applications)
  • Data rate: up to 20 GBit / s in the downlink and up to 10 GBit / s in the uplink per cell
  • Availability: 99.999% (reliable communication)
  • Energy consumption: 10 x less (improved energy efficiency)
  • Networking: communication directly between the end devices

Requirement profiles

It is difficult to implement all the requirements for the cellular network in a single cellular technology. The complexity would be too great. In addition, not all requirements are requested at all times. Therefore there are 3 application-related requirement profiles.

  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)
  • Massive machine-type communication (M-MTC / mMTC)
  • Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC)

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

The classic application profile for the cellular network is mobile broadband access with high data rate and low signal propagation time (latency). Most users are likely to use this for mobile internet. But there is also M2M communication that benefits from it.

Massive machine-type communication (M-MTC / mMTC)

The M-MTC profile describes applications with sporadic and small amounts of data with simple and inexpensive devices and long battery life. These are usually networked sensors and remotely readable meters (smart meters). Here the focus is on one Variety of the smallest devices on high signal range and low power consumption.

Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC)

The URLLC profile is also known as Critical Machine-type Communication (C-MTC / cMTC). URLLC is supposed to transmit with very high system availability and reliability With low signal propagation time (latency) at high data volume guarantee. For example, for real-time control of machines and systems with critical processes or for communication between autonomous vehicles.


Enhanced Mobile
Massive machine-type
Ultra reliable and low
Latency Communication
  • high data rate
  • high bandwidth per user
  • low latency
  • high signal range
  • high energy efficiency for long battery life
  • several hundred thousand devices per radio cell
  • very cheap radio modules
  • high connection quality
  • high system availability
  • high reliability
  • low latency
  • high volume of data
  • Mobile Internet
  • Video streaming
  • networked sensors and actuators
  • M2M communication
  • Smart city
  • Real-time control in industrial plants
  • Control of critical processes
  • Communication between autonomous vehicles
  • Cellular
  • Satellite systems (LEO, MEO)
  • Drones, balloons
  • WiFi mesh
  • LoRa / LoRaWAN
  • LTE-Cat-M1, LTE-Cat-NB1
  • Bluetooth 5 mesh

Transfer speed in comparison

Cellular technologyGSMUMTSLTE
Downlink53.6 kbit / s236.8 kbit / s384 kBit / s1.8 Mbit / s
3.6 Mbit / s
7.2 Mbit / s
14.4 Mbit / s
21.1 Mbit / s
42.2 Mbit / s
up to 300 Mbit / sup to 600 Mbit / sup to 1 GBit / s
Uplink13.4 kbit / s
(26.8 kBit / s)
118.4 kbit / s
(236.8 kBit / s)
128 kbit / s
(384 kBit / s)
1.8 Mbit / s
3.6 Mbit / s
5.8 Mbit / s
5.8 Mbit / s
(11.5 MBit / s)
up to 75 Mbit / sup to 75 Mbit / sup to 500 Mbit / s
Latency500 ms and more300 to 400 ms170 to 200 ms60 to 70 ms 10 ms10 ms10 ms

Mobile radio technology of the 2nd and 3rd generation in comparison

circuit switchedcircuit switchedpacket switchedpacket switchedpacket / code switched
Transfer rates
9.6 kbit / s
14.4 kBit / s (without error correction)
115.2 kbit / s171.2 kbit / s480 kbit / s

384 kBit / s (downlink)
64 kBit / s (uplink)

Transfer rates
Devices (theory)
9.6 kbit / s
14.4 kbit / s
57.6 kBit / s (downlink)
28.8 kBit / s (uplink)
62.4 kBit / s (downlink)
31.2 kBit / s (uplink)
236.8 kBit / s (downlink)
118.4 kBit / s (uplink)
384 kBit / s (downlink)
64 kBit / s (uplink)
Transfer rates
~ 9 kBit / sdepending on the number of channels~ 40 kBit / s (downlink)~ 170 kBit / s (downlink)
~ 95 kBit / s (uplink)
~ 360 kBit / s (downlink)
BillingConnection timeConnection timeAmount of data or connection timeAmount of data or connection timeAmount of data
Channel bundlingnot possibletheoretically max. 8 channelstheoretically max. 8 channelstheoretically max. 8 channelsMultiple use per channel

Data transmission in the GSM network

The first two methods of transmitting data in a GSM network are CSD (Circuit Switched Data), a circuit-switched data transmission method, and SMS (Short Message Service), a packet-switched connectionless short message service, limited to 160 characters per message.
CSD was offered by GSM right from the start. The user data rate was limited to a maximum of 9.6 kBit / s. In the GSM phase 2, the speed of the data transmission was increased to 14.4 kBit / s and the error correction of the data was dispensed with. The quality of the connection decreased.
The bundling of several channels was made possible by the GSM phase 2+. The data service HSCSD (High Speed ​​Circuit Switched Data) led to a higher data rate. Since both technologies are circuit-switched transmission methods, billing is based on the connection time. This is anything but ideal for the classic use of Internet access. GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and later EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) quickly established themselves. Both establish virtual connections, which are billed on the basis of the amount of data transferred.

Data transfer with UMTS network

With UMTS, a mobile radio standard was introduced for the first time, which not only allows voice but also fast data transmission. A gross data rate of 384 kBit / s enables a net data rate of 360 kBit / s or 45 kByte / s. Around 10% of the bandwidth is lost with UMTS for the overhead.
In comparison to DSL, UMTS is very sluggish. It takes a long time to establish the connection. But when data flows, it goes quite quickly. The downloads are very fast.
One reason for the delay is the ramp-up time. The UMTS user is always connected to the network. If, however, no data is currently being transmitted, its priority drops. When data traffic is triggered again, it takes two to three seconds for the data to reach the recipient (latency). The ramp-up time is slightly different for every network operator, which is why some networks feel faster than others.
Under optimal conditions, UMTS achieves latency times of 100 ms. In practice between 130 and 150 ms. In the case of sporadic access and low data flow, it is only 250 to 300 ms.
Basically, a bad received signal only slightly reduces the theoretical throughput of 45 kByte / s (downstream). One or two bars of 5 bars are sufficient for this (reception strength indicator on the mobile phone display). The exact reception strength of cell phones cannot be read off precisely. The data rate drops at more than -98 dBm.

HSPA (High Speed ​​Packet Access) and HSPA + are further developments of UMTS. With HSPA and HSPA +, compared to UMTS, higher data rates are achieved by means of higher packing density (higher-quality modulations) and several spatially separated transmission streams.

Data transmission in the LTE network

Long Term Evolution, or LTE for short, is the first globally applicable cellular technology for North America, Europe and Asia. LTE is a further development of UMTS and HSPA. LTE is completely geared towards the transmission of data. The future of mobile communications is called LTE.

LTE-Cat-M1 and LTE-Cat-NB1 are positioned worldwide as the successor technology to 2G (GSM, GPRS and EDGE) and competing LPWAN solutions. Comprehensive use is only possible if LTE is expanded.

Latency, the brake on fun in the cellular network

The latency is the runtime of a data packet from the sender to the recipient. The latency can vary depending on the cellular network, transmission method, end device and location. Applications that expect a short latency period may not work in cellular networks.

Incorrect billing of cellular data tariffs

Anyone who has a data tariff for mobile internet via cellular network will do well not to control the billing of the data transfer volume used. Because the amount consumed in the network operator's bill will usually not match the values ​​measured in the smartphone. However, this does not mean that the network operator's bill is fundamentally wrong. It is more due to the calculation method used by the network operators.
The real problem here is that as a customer you only have a certain volume. If it is exceeded, the transmission speed is reduced.

But why is it that data tariffs are billed incorrectly? The reason is poor reception conditions in connection with the download of large files. There are usually no billing errors when surfing or checking e-mails. The files are small and not so prone to errors. However, anyone who frequently accesses video and audio data using streaming methods can easily pay too much. Example: If you are watching a video on your smartphone and the connection to the cellular network breaks down, the data stream continues. With certain transmission protocols, there is no or seldom confirmation of the connection on the part of the recipient. The connection then simply continues until the sender has completely finished transmitting. The data volume retrieved is considered to have been used, even though the data did not arrive on the smartphone at all.

The billing method used by the network operators counts the kilobytes as consumed that leave the core network and are on their way to the base station. The data is considered to be used up even if there is no longer a connection between the mobile radio device and the base station.

Most customers are unlikely to know anything about this billing practice and are therefore surprised at the seemingly incorrect values ​​in their tariff statement. Unfortunately, there is a lack of transparency on the part of the network operators to explain the billing process used.

Data transmission services

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