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What are 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G and their differences?

If today we are all able to connect to the Internet from a common smartphone, watch a video on YouTube or a movie on Netflix anywhere or know where we should go thanks to Google Maps while we are in the car, it is because more than Forty years ago, in Japan , the first commercial cellular mobile network was born and with it a generational technology for mobile devices. We will talk below about what 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G are and their differences.

What are 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G and their differences?

Everyone knew it was a revolution, but no one could imagine that it would lead to modern networks and 5G .

And it is that our lives are governed in some way by the telephone networks and mobile Internet which have changed over the years, until the 5G network of today , which on the other hand is quite controversial and controversial.

But the truth is that telephone networks are governed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which created a committee to define the specifications. It is the IMT-Advanced committee that, among other things, defines the requirements that are necessary for a standard to be considered of the current generation.

What this means is that when we change generations, an important change occurs in all aspects and this committee is in charge of deciding the minimum characteristics that devices and networks must have when they want to be part of one or another generation.

Let us know then below the different generations of mobile telephony that have existed, the current 5G and how they differ:

1G mobile network

The so-called 1G network refers to the first generation of wireless cellular technology. Inaugurated in 1979 by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in the Tokyo metropolitan area, it was still a largely analog standard, sparking the first real technological revolution: these are the TACS years (Total Access Communication System, in Spanish). Communication System with Full Access) and the idea of a cordless phone.

However, it has an important limitation: in each frequency band, only one user can communicate at a time , due to the technology used.

2G mobile network

The second generation 2G mobile networks is also the first digital network. It was born with the GSM standard. It was 1991 : it had more bandwidth, therefore more speed, and new services available such as SMS and connection to the network via WAP. The first real sociocultural change occurs: SMS messages make their debut with 2G networks. Short messages of 160 characters, which literally changed the way we relate to others.

3G mobile network

The third generation of mobile Internet networks arrived at the beginning of 2000 in South Korea and Japan, while in Spain it made its debut in 2005. At the base of this generation is the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) standard, which in in turn, it is based on an evolution of the CDMA used from the 2G network. The frequencies used begin to multiply, occupying even higher frequency bands : 850, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz. The download speed goes from 384 Kbps to 21 Mbps, bringing the Internet to mobile phones : 3G, in fact, is the standard of the first smartphone.

The 3G LTE mobile network

After the 3G network and before 4G, the time came, in 2008, for the 3G LTE network, that is, Long Term Evolution, a term used to indicate the evolution of a communication standard to improve its performance. The important thing about 3G LTE is the introduction of MIMO, Multiple Input, Multiple Output technology in mobile networks. Thanks to the use of several antennas, a MIMO terminal can exchange more data at the same time, so much so that the theoretical maximum download speed is 326.4 Mbit / s and the upload speed is 86.4 Mbit / s.

With 3G LTE, users began to test the fast mobile connection, which later became the workhorse of 4G networks.

4G mobile network

Our life begins to change radically: Blackberry brings emails to mobile phones, Apple launches the App Store in 2008, video calls arrive and we go beyond SMS thanks to WhatsApp . The history of 4G or LTE, the fourth generation of Mobile Internet networks, begins on June 27, 2011 , when the announcement of the transfer of licenses is published. Download speeds are greatly increased (up to 326.4 Mbps), creating the conditions for the explosion of current mobile communications and possibilities: HD and 4K video streaming, high-quality music streaming, and the Internet of Things (IoT), with devices that are always available. connected and controllable anywhere. Online payments, thanks to the stability of 4G, spread considerably, which also led to the birth of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Within a few years, however, the true limit of the 4G network will emerge, which is not speed, but latency , which is the time that elapses between the request for data and its actual arrival on the user’s smartphone.

5G mobile network

And now it is the turn of the 5G mobile Internet network. The term 5G (acronym for 5th Generation) indicates the set of mobile and cellular telephony technologies, whose standards define the fifth generation of mobile telephony with a significant evolution compared to 4G / IMT-Advanced technology. Thanks to its innovative technology, it allows a large number of devices to be connected at the same time, guaranteeing extremely high reliability, ensuring higher connection speed, lower latency and better performance than the current 4 LTEs . The signal transmission frequencies envisaged for 5G technology are: 700 MHz (currently used by televisions), 3600-3800 MHz and 26 GHz (exploitation of electromagnetic waves that use frequencies higher than those currently used).

This allows for a much faster data transmission, as long as there are reduced distances between the receiver and the emitter, thus producing a data transmission that is more sensitive to obstacles.

The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance generally defines “5G” as a standard capable of satisfying the following scenarios:

  • speed : 100 times faster than 4G. The maximum potential speed of 20 Gbps (Giga bits per second) allows you to quickly download large amounts of data. For example: downloading a movie takes a few seconds. Its speed is directly proportional to the number of clients that will connect to the network.
  • Power Consumption : 5G cells have very limited power consumption even when under load and will need to be equipped with a power saving mode when not in use.
  • Capacity: 5G increases the data transmission capacity.
  • Latency : 5G has a time interval between sending the signal and receiving it 30 to 50 times less than 4G. This allows devices and appliances to be controlled remotely and in real time (autonomous vehicles, remote surgical operations, traffic management for roads, ports and airports, etc.) and to monitor the status of infrastructures in real time.
  • Density : 5G allows you to connect up to a million objects per km2, 100 times more than 4G, without affecting the connection speed. In particular, it is this last characteristic that should allow the development of the Internet of Things. In the future, networks will no longer be used only for mobile devices (such as smartphones or cell phones), but also for communication between objects, such as the possibility of ‘dialogue’ with many commonly used household appliances, or between devices and sensors. of various types (for example, the possibility of a vehicle communicating with the road).

By the end of 2024, it is estimated that 5G will reach more than 40% of the world’s population and that there will be 1.5 billion subscriptions to the new technology. The 5G networks will be networks of networks, for the use of “Small Cells” (a technical solution very similar to MIMO) that, positioned in a capillary way, will guarantee a high degree of coverage in all environments: more antennas but with lower powers of issue.

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