The evolution of wireless generations

From the analog-based first generation of wireless mobile telecommunications to today’s broadband LTE network, the information and communication technologies continue to evolve.

1G: First Generation
The first generation of wireless telephone technology was launched in the 1980s. It used analog signals and allowed voice calls in one country. Nevertheless, the phones were large, their battery life was poor and the voice quality was bad enough.

2G: Second Generation
The second generation of mobile telecommunication was launched on the GSM standard in Finland in 1991. It enables such data transmission as text messaging (SMS or Short Message Service), transfer of pictures or photos (MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service), but not videos. However, there should be a strong network coverage to ensure a good working process of mobile phones.
The later modifications, which were called 2.5G and 2.75G, occurred with the launching of GPRS (it stands for General Packet Radio Service). As GPRS networks evolved to EDGE (it refers to Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) networks, data rates reached up to 100 kbit/s on the average.

3G: Third Generation
The third generation was introduced in the early 2000s. Data Transmission speed increased up to 2 Mbit/s, that allows sending or receiving large email messages. Moreover, it makes possible a range of entertaining services, e.g. 3D gaming or mobile TV. Let’s consider an example, that shows a potential of the 3G’s data rate: you should spend 26 hours to download the two-hour-long “Guardians of the Galaxy”. While waiting you could fly from New York to Sydney, including check-in times.

4G: Fourth Generation
The fourth generation appeared in 2010 and it was based on LTE (short for Long Term Evolution) and LTE Advanced standards. Due to Voice over LTE, operators are able to offer a range of communication services such as video calling, real time language translation and video voicemail. No doubt, that the next generation of wireless technology provides higher data rates and expanded multimedia services. To assure high capacity, speed requirements for 4G service vary between 100 Mbit/s for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 Gbit/s for low mobility communication. Go back to our example of “Guardians of the Galaxy”: you should spend only 6 minutes to download this film using 4G. While waiting for the downloading you could run a mile.

5G: Fifth Generation
The fifth generation of wireless connection will be probably implemented by 2020, or even some years earlier. 5G is required to provide a machine to machine communication. In other words, 5G will be able to provide IoT services (it stands for Internet of Things) for smart city and smart home, connected cars, ubiquitous healthcare and so on. The new generation is based on lower cost, lower battery consumption and lower latency than 4G equipment. Furthermore, there will be surely much faster data transmission that of the previous generations. Thus, 5G speeds will hit 1 Gbit/s. That means you’ll download the “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 6 seconds. While waiting you will be able only to ask, ”Is it downloaded yet?”.

Image Source: European Commission

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Nadiia Gunko