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What Is the "G" in 5G? (A Brief History)

Vinit Singh is a computer science student pursuing his B.Tech degree in Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India.

What Does the "G" Stand for in 1G, 2G , 3G, 4G, and 5G?

The "G" in 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G simply stands for "Generation". When we are connected to a telecommunication network, we can see the strength of the network signal. For example, we see 2G, 3G, or 4G right next to the signal strength bar on our respective home screens.

Each of those indicating alphanumeric values defines the implementation of different technological mobile network systems. Each network generation has brought the world a significant milestone in the development of mobile communication systems. With every increase in network generation the speed and quality of the network and internet increases.

What Is 1G?

First Generation (1G) was first launched by Nippon telephone and telegraph technologies in 1979 in Tokyo. First generations networks completely used analogue telecommunications standards which were later replaced by digital second-generation (2G) networks.

  • After the release of the 1G cellular network in Tokyo, the first nation to completely make it available throughout the country was Japan. In 1983, Ameritech introduced 1G to the USA and Canada also got coverage in the mid-1980s. NMT service in Russia is the only 1G cellular network still in operation.
  • 1G was a revolutionary technology in the 1980s. But it had major drawbacks when compared to today's standards. Conversation over a phone call was difficult because of the low sound quality, low coverage area, shoddy network, large amount of static noise, no roaming support.
  • The main drawback was it didn't have any security measures, which meant anyone with a radio scanner would hear your conversation.
  • The frequency of the 1G network was 30 kHz and it had a bandwidth of 2 kbps.
1G (First Generation) Phone

1G (First Generation) Phone

What Is 2G?

Second Generations (2G) was first launched in 1991 by Radiolinja on the Global System for Mobile communications in Finland. 2G networks were the first to use digital networks. Second generations were much better than the first generation networks.

  • A much better sound quality made the voice call much better. 2G networks reduced the static and crackling noises during a call.
  • The main advancement made in second-generation networks was the introduction of encryption calls which means no one can hear your conversation on the call. Second-generation also improved the bandwidth and frequency.
  • 2G was the first network that allowed the transfer of data in bits from one phone to another. This also had access to media such as ringtones. With the transfer of data, ways to communicate also changed by introducing SMS and MMS service.
  • "Candy bar" phones became famous in the era of 2G and Nokia became the leading producer of cell phones.
  • The bandwidth of the 2G network 64 kbps and had a frequency of 1.8 GHz.

2.5G

2.5G also knows as GPRS (general packet radio service). With this service, 2G was able to provide a maximum frequency of 160 kbps. GPRS was established by the European telecommunication standard Institute. 2.5G is sometimes described as a technology between 2G and 3G of mobile telephony.

2.75G

With the introduction of 8PSK encoding, GPRS evolved into EDGE (Enhanced data rate for GSM evolution). The common thing between GPRS and EDGE (2.75G) is the symbol rate which remained at 270.833 samples per second.

Improved data transmission rates are allowed by backward-compatible digital mobile phone technology. This is an extension of standard GSM and was deployed on it at the beginning of 2003 by AT&T in the United States.

2G (Second generation) Phone

2G (Second generation) Phone

What Is 3G?

The Third Generation (3G) wireless mobile communication is an upgraded version for 2.5G GPRS and 2.75G EDGE networks which made the transfer of data a lot faster and were launched by Hutchison Telecommunications. 3G was the first mobile cellular network that enables people to video call.

  • 3G is also responsible for internet access, voice telephony, fixed wireless Internet access and mobile TV technologies. Every ten years after the introduction of the first generation networks, a new generation of cellular networks has appeared. 3G telecommunication networks have supported an information transfer rate of at least 144 kbps.
  • Later 3G was developed in 3.5G, 3.75G, 3.9G and 3.95G which was able to provide transfer of data in Mbps. All four of these versions of 3G are indicated as 3G in android devices. Services which is advertised as 3G should meet the requirements of IMT-2000 technical standards. Including standards for reliability and speed (data transfer rates). 3G also provides mobile broadband access to several M/bits to smartphones and mobile modems in laptop computers.
  • Web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing and other smartphone technology were introduced in the third generation. Smartphones became popular worldwide because of 3G networks. 3G was commercially was introduced in 2001.
  • The main goal of 3G was to facilitate greater voice and data capacity, support a wider range of applications, and increase data transmission at a cheaper cost. 3G also used backward-compatibility technology.
  • 3G has a bandwidth of 2 Mbps and has a frequency of 1.6 to 2 GHz.
3G (Third generation) Phone

3G (Third generation) Phone

What Is 4G?

In 2009, the Fourth Generation (4G) wireless broadband communication was commercially presented in front of the world and the company which launched 4G was TeliaSonera. 4G networks were the next big advancement after 3G.

  • 4G is also known as 'Beyond 3G'. 4G technology is all about wired and wireless networks, wireless technologies including GSM, local area network, WPANs, WLANs, better broadcast and satellite communications, customized personal service network system and global mobility support.
  • 4G is an integrated-protocol-based integrated system that is able to provide a transfer data rate of 100 Mbps at high mobility to 1Gbps at low mobility. This technology is also able to provide services at any time as per the user's requirements at affordable prices.
  • The user services also include IP telephony, gaming services ultra-broadband Internet access and High Definition Television (HDTV) streamed multimedia.
  • 4G network technology provides QoS security measures which are known to be one of the best network security. 2G and 3G systems used CDMA, FDMA and TDMA as access channels which are less secure compared to the 4G system which uses OFDMA and multicarrier CDMA. LTE and Volte are two of the few different versions of 4G.
  • The bandwidth of 4G goes till 1Gbps and the frequency is 1.7 GHz to 2.6 GHz.
4G (Fourth generation) SmartPhone

4G (Fourth generation) SmartPhone

What Is 5G?

5G is the Fifth Generation cellular broadband network that companies started to develop rapidly from the year 2009. Experts have predicted that 5G will reach up to 1.5 billion subscribers by the year 2025.

  • 5G is a kind of cellular network that will connect everyone virtually, even the machines and devices.
  • 5G is said to be a lot better than 4G networks. It is meant to deliver multi-Gbps data transfer rates and low latency, massive network connectivity, more reliability, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.
  • IMT 2020 requirements stated that 5G networks speed could reach up to 20 Gbps. 5G networks have been launched in early 2019.
  • The average bandwidth of 5G is 100 Mbps and could reach up to 20 Gbps and uses the frequency of 28.4 GHz.
5G (Fifth Generation) Smart Phones

5G (Fifth Generation) Smart Phones

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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