December 1, 2018 was the day when South Korea became the very first country to introduce the 5G which is the fifth generation mobile – wireless standard and its pretty much fair to say that the mobile industry has made some breathtaking advances since the first 1973, when the first mobile phone was made. In recent days, mobile phones has reshaped our life in many ways which we could never have predicted.
Every successive generation of wireless standards – which is abbreviated as ‘G’ have introduced wondering advances in data carrying capacity and decreased in latency, 5G will never forget to wonderstruck us. Let’s see how the mobile generations have evolved from 1G to 5G along with its drawbacks and its advances.
1G: Where it all began
The very first generation of mobile network 1G was launched by the Nippon Telegraph and Telegram (NTT) in Tokyo in 1979. By the year 1984, NTT had rolled out 1G to cover the whole of Japan. 1983, the first 1G operations and the Motorola’s DynaTAC was approved by the US and soon after it became the first ‘mobile’ phone to be widespread around the stateside. After a few years, other countries like Canada and UK rolled out their own 1G networks.
However, a number of drawbacks was suffered by the 1G technology. There was poor coverage and a low sound quality. There wasn’t any roaming support between different operators as different operators work on different frequencies. As a result of which there was no compatibility between devices. Worst of which were, the calls weren’t encrypted properly, so anyone with a radio scanner could drop in on a call.
Despite the shortcomings, the income made by the 1G technology was astonishing. As, the 1G technology was a super hit, there was no turning back and it eventually paved way for the second generation, which is the 2G.
2G: Cultural Revolution
The second generation of mobile network, appropriately called the 2G, was launched under the GSM, in Finland in 1991. And for the first time, calls were encrypted properly and the digital calls were significantly clearer compared to 1G with pretty much less static and background crackling.
But 2G, provided us with technology, much more than telecommunication. It helped us lay the groundwork for cultural revolution. And for the first time, people were able to send text messages (SMS), picture messages and even multimedia messages (MMS) with their phones. The analog method of 1G in the past paved way for the future of digital future provided to us by the 2G.
Although, the transfer speed of 2G was initially low, the operators tried to improve the speed by investing on mobile towers. Despite its relatively low speed, 2G managed to revolutionize the business landscape and it changed the world forever.
3G: The ‘Packet – Switching’ Revolution
3G was launched in 2001, by NTT DoCoMo whose main aim was to standardize the network protocol used by the vendors. This meant the people will be able to access the data all over the world ‘Data Packets’ if we standardize the drive web connectivity. This made the international roaming services possible for the first time.
3G had increased data transfer rate which was like 4 times than that of 2G. This led to the possibility of different services like video streaming, video conferencing and voice over IP such as Skype. The Blackberry was launched in 2002, and 3G made most of the features of the Blackberry possible.
In 2007, iPhone was launched and the rising of the 3G was seen, which means that the network capabilities were stretched like never before.
4G: The Streaming Era
The Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard, which is the 4G was first deployed in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway in 2009. It was then introduced throughout the world and made high quality video streaming, a real possibility for millions of consumers. 4G offers us with fast mobile web access which might be up to 1 gigabit per second for stationary users which provides us with HD videos, gaming services, HQ video conferencing and many more services.
The transition from 2G to 3G was simple as it was much more like switching sim cards. But it wasn’t the same case with 4G. It required designing new devices specifically to support 4G. This dramatically scaled the profit of the manufacturers. It was one factor behind Apple’s rise to become the world’s first trillion dollar company.
While 4G is the current standard around the world, some regions are still not able to get the utmost of 4G LTE penetration. For example, the mobile data network, according to Ogury, UK residents are able to access the network only 53 percent of the time.
5G: The Internet of Things Era
Same as 4G network, 5G are also cellular networks which divide their service area into small geographical areas called ‘cells’. All 5G wireless network devices are connected to the internet and telephone networks by radio waves through a local antenna present in the cell.
The increased speed is partly provided by the high-frequency radio waves and since higher-frequency means shorter range than the used cellphone towers, they require smaller cells. So, to ensure wide service to the users, 5G network uses 3 different frequency bands which are the low, medium and high.
Due to its increased bandwidth, we can expect that this new network could provide us not just the network to cellphones like the existing cellular networks, but could also be used as a general internet service providers (ISPs) for our laptops and computers, by competing with the existing ISPs like the cable internet.
Three South Korean carriers namely KT, LG Uplus and SK Telecom have rolled out live commercial 5G services and promised a launch of 5G across the country.
As we have seen, 5G is the future of the mobile network, helping us make IoT a real possibility. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the developing technology from 1G to present day. As Ashton points out that, the IoT isn’t just “the refrigerator talking to the toaster”; it’s a way to facilitate countless increases in human productivity.
Unlike previous generations like 3G and 4G, 5G is far more expensive and complicated to implement. It could also be possible to make new applications in internet of things (IoT) areas and machine to machine areas. Current 4G network devices won’t be able to use this new network and might require new 5G enabled wireless devices.