Consumers demand more from their technology. Whether it is a television, cellular phone, or refrigerator, the latest technology purchase must-have new features. With the advent of the Internet, the most-wanted feature is better, faster access to information. To support such a powerful system, we need pervasive, high-speed wireless connectivity. A number of technologies currently exist to provide users with high-speed digital wireless connectivity. Until the controversial spectrum scams were brought up in the limelight many were ignorant of what 1G, 2G or 3G stood for and all of a sudden a hike was found out amongst laymen so as to be knowledgeable about it. Still, a number of people are unaware of 1G or 2G when the world has completely moved to 4G and awaiting the launch of 5G on full-scale.
The telecom service in the World had a great leap within the last few years . Close to 5 billion people (60% of World Population) own mobile phones so we are going to analyze the various generations of cellular systems as studied in the evolution of mobile communications from the 1st generation to 5th generation.
0G is also called “Mobile Radio Telephone” technology considered as the dawn of wireless connectivity. MTS (Mobile Telephone System) was the first commercially used mobile telephone service started in 1946. Such mobile phones were installed in different vehicles with bulky transceivers placed in the trunk of vehicles like car and a headset and a dialler positioned near the driver seat. Both headset and transceiver were connected through a wire. Some models are designed with briefcases used for extreme connectivity by the specialists. These systems were expensive, heavyweight, big size and provide limited connectivity. Motorola was the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone. On 3rd April 1973 when Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, made the first mobile telephone call from handheld subscriber equipment, placing a call to Dr Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs. The prototype handheld phone used by Dr Cooper weighed about 1.1 kg and measured 23 cm long, 13 cm deep and 4.45 cm wide. The prototype offered a talk time of just 30 minutes and it took 10 hours to recharge. This was termed as 1G i.e. the first generation of mobile communication. 1G uses analog signal transmission.
The image beside shows the first cell phone Motorola DynaTAC, to be offered commercially and is fondly remembered as an iconic part of the 1980s. When it was released by Motorola, it was also considered a symbol of wealth and futurism. Now it looks extremely archaic and almost comical, but this phone heralded the future of the modern smartphone.1G Technology. It basically was a network with only voice call capabilities and only got the name 1G after 2G was put to use. This was the first wireless telecommunication generation used by the majority of the people for a long time.1G is an analog technology and the phones generally had poor battery life and voice quality was large without much security, and would most often experience dropped calls.
Data transmissions were done in analog form at a frequency of radio waves. This was the biggest drawback of 1G technology. This led to the insecurity of phone calls like eavesdropping and theft of airtime. Also due to less frequency bandwidth for 1G, data transmission speed was too low and was only feasible for phone calls as they take low data to carry the intended signals.
The other big drawback was roaming that was not supported in 1G technology meaning you could not use other countries’ networks.
2G was a period of very rapid expansion for mobile communication technology introduced in the 1990s. They were the first digital cellular networks, instead of analog. This technology was based on binary codes like a series of zeros and ones. At the receiver’s end, it was converted back to voice through the switch on and switch off of the inbuilt circuit. The two major standards of 2G were named – GSM (created in Europe) and CDMA (created in the US). 2G brought many new opportunities in mobile technology.
This was the beginning of smaller, sleeker and more attractive phones. 2G networks introduced a feature that all of us are using every day – SMS. Picture messages, access to media content on mobile phones and extra storage (memory cards) are other facilities given by 2G networks. One of the best things about this generation is that as carriers continued to install more and more cell sites, their networks became denser, requiring cell phones to use less battery in order to maintain a normal signal level. This technology allows manufacturers to leave the brick-phones in the past and start producing much more compact and lighter handsets at a lower cost. This generation also started the trend of prepaid mobile phones and brought many benefits like faster connections, better service and support for new features. 2G introduced internet access in mobile phones in 2000 using GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and it was called 2.5G. The inherent advantages of digital technology over that of analog meant that 2G networks eventually replaced them almost everywhere.
It was a generation of rapid growth and improvement for wireless technology. With its focus on faster speeds and reliability, it brought us stuff like streaming audio and video, VoIP capabilities and usable internet access among many others. This generation has made mobile phones work just like a mini-computer with a large number of mobile applications. Users can now surf the internet, upload or download data, make video calls, audio and video streaming, use GPS (Global Positioning System) at the blink of an eye using 3G technology. The main aim of 3G services is to provide users with the highest speed of data and voice transfers, GPS and other applications in a secure manner. 3G provides a maximum data rate of 1Mbps to 2Mbps. The limitations of 3G technology is the requirement for high bandwidth, high spectrum licensing fees and huge capital investment.
The single biggest disadvantage to cellular networks going forward is that as data rates increase, the output power will have to increase, or the size of the cells will have to decrease to support those higher data rates. Since significant increases in output power scare both consumers and regulators, it is far more likely that we will see significantly smaller cells.
4G is the next step into wireless and cellular technologies. It is the result of human hunger to get more and more. This hunger is the constant force behind every development. This technology is associated with high speed and remote connectivity anywhere in the world. 4G provides a speed of 100 Mbps for moving users and 1Gbps for stationary users. It is fully IP- based integration of several wireless broadband access communication systems, not only one cellular telephone system.
4G is best described by the word “MAGIC” where M stands for Mobile multimedia, A stands for Anytime Anywhere Anyone, G stands for Global mobile support and I stands for Integrated wireless solutions and C for customized personalized service.
In 4G the mobile phone is not only for calling but it’s something extraordinary that can be used for a variety of purposes. One such application in 4G is context-awareness. For example, if the mobile user is passing by an office where he/she is having an appointment to meet someone and they have forgotten the appointment. If the office location, address and geographical location matches the one user has already stored in the phone, he/she will receive information about the appointment and will be reminded that you need to perform this activity.
Mobile technology has come a long way. In the beginning users were happy just to be able to talk using 1G. 2G improved communication quality and extended the meaning of “long-distance calls” with roaming capabilities. 2G also gave the text facility to its users. 3G perfected the voice calls and introduced high-speed internet & video chatting. Now, the most recent 4G technology allows mobile devices to operate at blazing fast speeds. A new generation of 5G standards may be introduced approximately in 2020-21. From a user point of view between 4G and 5G techniques must be something else than increased maximum throughput; for example lower battery consumption, lower outage probability (better coverage), high bit rates in larger portions of the coverage area, cheaper or no traffic fees due to low infrastructure deployment costs, or higher aggregate capacity for many simultaneous users. The mobile industry has earned the reputation of not remaining stagnant; it is exciting to ponder what technology might be in store. In our next article we will see the features promised by 5G and what it means for smart city plans and businesses.