Mobile technology evolution 1G to 5G

5G continues to expand around the world. At the same time, mobile networks are a growth engine and each generation ushers in a new wave of innovations, so there is already speculation about what the anticipated sixth generation (6G) technology will deliver.

Just a few years ago no one dreamed that the population would be able to do anything on a small touch screen device. But these little gadgets have transformed the way you shop, communicate, work, learn, or consume content.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first mobile call —made on April 3, 1973 by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer— this report will delve into one of the incredible advances that we will be able to see in smartphones in the future because for a long time time many experts have begun to raise the concept of 6G technology.

Executives from some of the world’s largest technology and telecommunications companies say this next generation is likely to arrive in 2030.

The timeline from 1G to 5G could not have happened without creating and improving each generation of telecommunications that has led to what it is today. Approximately every 10 years and since 1979, each new generation has changed the way we communicate, improving our quality of life.

Mobile technology evolution, 1g,2g,3g,4g,5g

The evolution of mobile wireless technology from 1G to 5G

1G: voice calls

1979 was a time when cell phones were thick, heavy, and bulky. They had no screens and came with big antennas and huge batteries. However, this is where the story of the mobile network began.

The first generation allowed communication between two compatible devices using a wireless network. Based on the analogue system, 1G only supported voice calls, albeit with poor quality due to interference. Also, 1G worked in a fixed geographic area due to the lack of roaming support from the network.

2G: telephony services

The second generation (1990) fixed the problems that plagued the first generation mobile network and introduced new capabilities. The first generation analogue system has now been replaced by a highly advanced digital technology for wireless transmission called the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). 

Digitally based, 2G supported better quality voice calls and data services such as Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

Additionally, this mobile network enabled roaming , allowing users to make calls, send and receive messages, and multimedia content on the go. 2G technology allowed true telephony services. 

It later received Internet support in the form of GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Evolution), but that alone wasn’t enough for a generational change. So there was also 2.5G before the world went to 3G.

3G: age of applications

The third generation mobile network (2001) introduced high-speed Internet services that laid the foundation for smartphones and application ecosystems. While 3G enabled the concept of mobile TV, online radio services and mobile email, it is video calls and apps that really define this era.

This was the time when the iPhone and Android smartphones started to make headway.

Like 2G, there was no direct change from 3G to 4G. There was a 3.5G, which led to better internet speeds in megabytes per second (Mbps) with the introduction of technologies like HSDPA (High Speed ​​Downlink Packet Access) and HSUPA (High Speed ​​Uplink Packet Access). ).

4G: Internet calls

Concepts introduced by 3G, such as high-definition voice calls, video calls, and other Internet services, become a reality in 4G (2009), thanks to higher data rates and advanced multimedia services supported by the mobile network. . 

It perfected the LTE (Long Term Evolution) system, which significantly improves the data rate and allows the simultaneous transmission of voice and data. Internet calling, or VoLTE (Voice over LTE), is one of the many advantages of the 4G mobile network. The network also enabled voice over WiFi (VoWi-Fi), making it easy to make voice calls in areas with little or no network capacity.

5G: IoT and companies

From 1G to 4G, each successive generation of communication technology brought significant changes to the network, refining the use cases of the previous generation and introducing new ones. 

Mobile operators in China, South Korea, and the United States began rolling out 5G in 2019. This technology is the next generation of mobile internet after 4G, promising super-fast speeds.

But penetration among consumers remains low. Only one in seven people worldwide today use 5G, according to Strategy Analytics.

However, 5G has been positioned by the telecom industry not just as a consumer product for faster download speeds, but as a network that could support new technologies like self-driving cars.

However, after hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in 5G networks, operators have struggled to see a return on profit. Analysts still float the idea that the real potential to monetize 5G could be on the horizon.

6G in 2030?

6G was one of the big talking points at Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile industry fair that was recently held in Barcelona, ​​with global telecommunications companies giving their views on this latest technology .

Now, why is the industry already talking about this still early technology? The answer is that telecommunication networks require standards. These are, at best, globally accepted technical rules that define how a technology works and its interoperability around the world.

These standards take several years to develop and finalize and involve a range of stakeholders, from companies to academia and industry. That’s why the industry is thinking so much about it.

In other words, before 6G we will be able to experience an improved 5G that, if accompanied by devices produced in Europe or the United States, will allow a global deployment away from skepticism about the current Asian devices that dominate the market and slow down deployment. In short, it will allow the democratization of this technology.

At the moment it seems that the key, according to experts, is to focus on the deployment of 5G even while the investigation of this novelty is carried out. That’s because talking about 6G could confuse consumers and there is still progress to be made on 5G technology.

At this point, because 6G standards have not been established, there is no clear picture of what the technology will look like. Several executives, including Nokia’s CEO, predicted that it will be rolled out in 2030, with standards set a few years earlier.

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