1G, 2G,…& 5G: The evolution of the G’s
Telecommunication and networking has been and will be one of the core technologies in helping the evolution of mankind and technology itself. If it wasn’t for it for these channels of communications and data transmission, we would probably still be in an era where technology isn’t as advanced as today.
Wireless communication technology inside cell phones and other mobile devices has evolved over several decades. Starting with the then revolutionary 1G (referred to as the earliest form of voice only network) all the way to the 4G of today and the 5G of the near future. But what has really changed? and what is the core driving principles of these wireless communication technology?
First off, the G in “4G” or “5G” stands for generation and the number is just a representation of the evolution of technology. Currently, as you may know, we are using the 4th generation of wireless communication technology. But lets start from where it all began:
1G and 2G
There never was something called as 1G at first. It basically was a network with only voice call capabilities and only got the name 1G after 2G was put to use. During the 2G era, that lasted for quite a while from 1980’s to 2003, there were quite a few advancements made within the spectrum itself such as GSM, GPRS and EDGE.
- GSM: Short for Global Systems for Mobile Communication enabled data transfer on top of voice communication at speeds that are seen as a joke today (30-35 kbps). It played a critical role in the evolution as mobile technology as right about the time it was being used mobile phone connectivity and popularity exploded.
- GPRS: General Packet Radio Service operated on the similar 2G technology as GSM with a few refinements with gave it higher data speeds (110 kbps)
- EDGE: Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution introduced in 2003 was somewhat known to be 2.9G or 3G due to its significant advancements over GPRS and GSM. It offered high speeds of 135 kbps and continues to be used on many mobile networks even today as is satisfies the basic needs of both carriers and users in various parts of the world.
This was a big revolution in terms of technological advancement for network and data transmission. 3G had and has speed capabilities of up to 2 mbps. It enabled smartphones to provide faster communication, send/receive large emails and texts, provide fast web browsing, video streaming and more security amongst others. It was widely based on CDMA2000 (Code-division multiple access) and EDGE technologies. Now you might wonder why EDGE? Well, because EDGE was so advanced it was able to provide enough capabilities to be considered as 3G. CDMA2000, on the other hand, operated on similar key concepts but did it better. It enabled multiple channels to communicate at one same thus improvising on the over speed and connectivity.
The 4G standard sets several requirements for mobile networks
including mandating the use of Internet Protocol (IP) for data traffic and minimum data rates of 100 Mbps. [LifeWire] which was a huge jump from the 2 mbps for 3G. It is often referred to as MAGIC
- M – Mobile multimedia
- A – Anytime anywhere
- G – Global mobility support
- I – Integrated wireless solution
- C – Customized personal service
It is not much to do with the technology it uses but rather than the requirements set forth by International Telecommunication Union’s Radio communication Sector (ITU-R). These standards are known as International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced (IMT-Advanced). The list of standards is quite complicated and thus were a barrier in fast adoption of the 4G spectrum.
Soon after 4G, 4G LTE was introduced. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and it isn’t as much a technology as it is the path followed to achieve 4G speeds. It was a complete redesign and simplification of 3G network architecture, resulting in a significant reduction in transfer latency and thus, increasing efficiency and speeds on the network.
It is still quite in its early stages and the the technology likely to appear in the market only by 2020 at the earliest. Goals for future 5G include significantly faster speeds (a minimum of 1 Gbps and perhaps up to 10 Gbps) plus lower power requirements to better support huge numbers of new Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It will have capabilities to provide faster dialing speeds, multiple device connectivity, higher data speeds just to name a few.
There has been a lot of advancements in the field of wireless network communication over the years in terms of overall development and change in core functionality, which has been crucial to put us in a era that is driven by technology all around us and with 5G a couple years away, technologies such as IoT, Cloud computing and AI will completely redefine our world by 2025.
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