Know all about Network Generations 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and Next G.

Know all about Network Generations 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and Next G.

Through this Post we're going to explain the major differences between the different 'generation' networks also explain some of the technical aspects of the different technologies. 

What is a 'G' or 'Generation'?

Each Generation is defined as a set of telephone network standards, which detail the technological implementation of a particular mobile phone system.The reliability factor is the hardest obstacle to overcome. 1G was not used to identify wireless technology until 2G, or the second generation, was released. That was a major jump in the technology when the wireless networks went from analog to digital. 3G came along and offered faster data transfer speeds, at least 200 kilobits per second, for multi-media use and was a long time standard for wireless transmissions regardless of what you heard on all those commercials. It is still a challenge to get a true 4G connection, which promises upwards of a 1Gps, Gigabit per second, transfer rate if you are standing still and in the perfect spot. 4G LTE comes very close to closing this gap.

1G or First Generation - Analog

The analog network was responsible for those bulky handheld 'bricks' that you might have had the displeasure of using and your wallet the displeasure of buying it. A term never widely used until 2G was available. This was the first generation of cell phone technology. The radio signals used by 1G networks are analog.

2G or Second Generation - Digital

A few more features were added to the menu such as simple text messaging. Three primary benefits of 2G networks over 1G were that phone conversations were digitally encrypted; 2G systems were significantly more efficient on the spectrum allowing for far greater mobile phone penetration levels; and 2G introduced data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages. 2G technologies enabled the various mobile phone networks to provide the services such as text messages, picture messages, and MMS (multimedia messages). All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing for the transfer of data in such a way that only the intended receiver can receive and read it.

After 2G was launched, the previous mobile telephone systems were retroactively dubbed 1G. While radio signals on 1G networks are analog, radio signals on 2G networks are digital. Both systems use digital signaling to connect the radio towers (which listen to the handsets) to the rest of the telephone system.The advantages of 2G are Digital calls tend to be free of static and background noise.

This fancy new digital network is called GSM - Global System for Mobile Communication, and its technological backbone of choice is TDMA (similar to FDMA). The radio frequency band utilised by GSM is the 900MHz spectrum and later introduced on the 1800MHz band.

The advantages of 2G over 1G lies in TDMA - Time Division Multiple Access. The FDMA component splits the 900MHz (actually 890MHz to 915MHz) band into 124 channels that are 200KHz wide. The 'time' component then comes into play in which each channel is split into eight 0.577us bursts,significantly increasing the maximum number of users at any one time. We don't hear a 'stuttering' of a persons voice thanks to the wonders of digital compression codecs, which we're not going to go into here.

Apart from more users per cell tower, the digital network offers many other important features:

- digital encryption (64bit A5/1 stream cipher)
- packet data (used for MMS/Internet access)
- SMS text messaging
- caller ID and other similar network features.

The problem in this generation still exists Unlike its AMPS predecessor, GSM is limited severely in range. The TDMA technology behind the 2G network means that if a mobile phone cannot respond within its given timeslot (0.577us bursts) the phone tower will drop you and begin handling another call. Aside from this, packet data transmission rates on GSM are extremely slow.To overcome these two problems we're going to introduce two new networks - CDMA and EDGE.

 CDMA Code Division Multiple Access

The extended range is achieved by removing the 'time' based multiplexing with a code-based multiplexing. A lower frequency band (800MHz) also assisted in range by reduced path loss and attenuation. Picture a room full of people having conversations - under TDMA each person takes their turn talking (ie time division), conversely CDMA allows many people to talk at the same time but is the equivalent of each person speaking a different language, ie in a unique code. 

EDGE Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution. 

GSM introduced a GPRS based packet data network in 2001, with a max speed of around 60-80kbps (downlink), equating to a download speed of 10kB/s - slightly faster than dial-up. EDGE was later introduced as a bolt-on protocol (no new technology was required) increasing the data rate of the 2G network to around 237kbps (29kB/s).

3G or Third Generation- The Mobile Broadband Revolution

This generation set the standards for most of the wireless technology we have come to know and love. Web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing and other Smartphone technology were introduced in the third generation. 3G should be capable of handling around 2 Megabits per second. The 3G standard utilises a new technology called UMTS as its core network architecture - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. This network combines aspects of the 2G network with some new technology and protocols to deliver a significantly faster data rate.
The base technology of UMTS is the WCDMA air interface which is technologically similar to CDMA introduced earlier, where multiple users can transmit on the same frequency by use of a code based multiplexing. Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) takes this concept and stretches the frequency band to 5MHz. The system also involves significant algorithmic and mathematical improvements in signal transmission, allowing more efficient transmissions at a lower wattage (250mW compared to 2W for 2G networks).
The new network also employs a much more secure encryption algorithm when transmitting over the air. 3G uses a 128-bit A5/3 stream cipher which, unlike A5/1 used in GSM (which can be cracked in near real-time using a ciphertext-only attack), has no known practical weaknesses. UMTS employs a protocol called HSPA - High Speed Packet Access, which is a combination of HSDPA (downlink) and HSUPA (uplink) protocols. The Telstra HSDPA network supports category 10 devices (speeds up to 14.4Mbps down) however most devices are only capable of category 7/8 transmission (7.2Mbps down), and its HSUPA network supports category 6 (5.76Mbps up).
The only major limitation of the 3G network is, not surprisingly, coverage. As stated earlier the 2100MHz network is available to around 50% of Australia's population and when combined with a 900MHz UMTS network available to about 94%. As expected, the higher 2100MHz component suffers far more attenuation and FSPL and is often considered a 'short range' mobile network which is why a lower 900MHz network is required to service many regional and rural areas.

4G or Fourth generation

 The speed and standards of this technology of wireless needs to be at least 100 Megabits per second and up to 1 Gigabit per second to pass as 4G. It also needs to share the network resources to support more simultaneous connections on the cell. As it develops, 4G could surpass the speed of the average wireless broadband home Internet connection. Few devices were capable of the full throttle when the technology was first released. Coverage of true 4G was limited to large metropolitan areas. Outside of the covered areas, 4G phones regressed to the 3G standards. When 4G first became available, it was simply a little faster than 3G. 4G is not the same as 4G LTE which is very close to meeting the criteria of the standards.

The major wireless networks were not actually lying to anyone when 4G first rolled out, they simply stretched the truth a bit. A 4G phone had to comply with the standards but finding the network resources to fulfill the true standard was difficult. You were buying 4G capable devices before the networks were capable of delivering true 4G to the device. Your brain knows that 4G is faster than 3G so you pay the price for the extra speed. Marketing 101. The same will probably be true when 5G hits the markets.

4G LTE– Long Term Evolution

 LTE sounds better. This buzzword is a version of 4G that is fast becoming the latest advertised technology and is getting very close to the speeds needed as the standards are set. When you start hearing about LTE Advanced, then we will be talking about true fourth generation wireless technologies because they are the only two formats realized by the International Telecommunications Union as True 4G at this time. But forget about that because 5G is coming soon to a phone near you. Then there is XLTE which is a bandwidth charger with a minimum of double the bandwidth of 4G LTE and is available anywhere the AWS spectrum is initiated.

5G or Fifth Generation

5G are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. Rather than faster peak Internet connection speeds, 5G planning aims at higher capacity than current 4G, allowing higher number of mobile broadband users per area unit, and allowing consumption of higher or unlimited data quantities in gigabyte per month and user. This would make it feasible for a large portion of the population to stream high-definition media many hours per day with their mobile devices, when out of reach of Wi-Fi hotspots. 5G research and development also aims at improved support of machine to machine communication, also known as the Internet of things, aiming at lower cost, lower battery consumption and lower latency than 4G equipment.



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