The journey to 5G

With the most recent release of 5G it’s easy to take this incredible technology for granted – do you remember the release of 1G?

We’re going to take you on a trip down memory lane and our journey to 5G…

1G – First Generation Mobile.

Analogue technology: the sound quality was okay but interference was common. Alongside some background noise or hissing sounds such as white noise. Handsets were extremely bulky – which device do you remember?

Reception was pretty poor, but it really did make a difference if you held your phone up to the sky and pointed it in different directions!

SMS and internet was yet to come…

Did you know? when we switched from 1G Analogue to 2G Digital, the networks added white noise to the connection on purpose because people thought the line had gone dead when no-one was speaking.­

2G – Second Generation Mobile.

Digital voice calls – a lot clearer than analogue, sounded like you were in the room next door!

SMS (short message service) was introduced, but our phones didn’t have keyboards then, so you had to tap the numbers multiple times to get the letter you wanted. Typing a 160-character text message was very time consuming until the introduction of predictive text in 1995!

Figure this one out – 44-33-555-555-666.

Mobile data was also introduced and was very slow at start, with speeds of just 9.6 kbps. Speeds were improved with the introduction of 2.5G GPRS data (171 kbps) and EDGE (384 kbps = 0.4 Mbps), less than half a meg per second = still slow!  The connection types were represented by a G and E on the phone screen next to the signal strength indicator.

Did you know? The first iPhone was launched in late 2007 after the commercial 3G rollout has started, however it was known as iPhone 2G because it was only 2G capable. There was no iPhone 1 or 1G.

3G – Third Generation Mobile.

Same text and voice services but with improved data speeds of 2 Mbps were introduced.

Data speeds improved with HSPA or 3.5G, giving speeds of 14.4Mbps, which is when we start to see the introduction of the Smartphones that can access full internet pages on larger mobile screens and apps!

‘Mobile broadband’ introduced as a data only mobile connection using a standard mobile SIM in a data device (i.e. dongle).

Messaging apps start to take over from traditional SMS – WhatsApp (2009) and iMessage (2011) use data to send messages.

4G – Fourth Generation Mobile.

The 4G network provides data connectivity only – voice and SMS is still available via 2G/3G connection.

Data speeds increase again to around 300Mbps (realistic speeds were a lot lower, but still fast enough for standard smartphone usage).

In 2014, Smartphone connections to the internet exceed PCs. Voice calls using a data connection, or Voice over IP (VoIP) is now common – think Facetime, WhatsApp audio, etc.

5G – Fifth Generation Mobile

For the Connected World!

This is not a smartphone technology.  It was designed to address the issues with current 3G/4G networks in order to advance mobile technology to another level.

Key to the new connected world is not just speed, but capacity, latency, and battery efficiency.

Many think 5G is simply the next step up from 4G – but it’s much more than just an upgrade. 5G is set to change the way we work and will kick-start the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Speeds now reach 1Gbps (realistic 300Mbps on smartphone).

With over one thousand times the data capacity of 4G, 5G will be able to:

  • Handle thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, compared to just over one hundred on 4G
  • Provide ten times higher data speeds than 4G
  • Connect one million personal devices per square kilometre, compared to two hundred on 4G
  • Provide ultra-reliable low latency, five times better than 4G
  • And enable battery life of up to ten years on machine-type devices

Analysts believe that 5G will move cellular connectivity to a completely new level, where all devices can communicate and share information easily. Some go as far to say that 5G will achieve the landmark of being considered a General Purpose Technology, a designation given to technologies that change the world. Other GPTs include the printing press, electricity, automobiles, and the internet, putting this potential classification into proper context.

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