Wireless networks – and demand for them – are ever growing and evolving. So how have cellular wireless networks changed since the early days of 1G and where are we heading next?
Cellular wireless networks have developed a long way from the first mobile phone systems. Since the first 1G system was introduced in 1981, mobile connections have soared into the billions, with a new mobile generation appearing approximately every ten years.
With the introduction of GSM and the possibility of international roaming, the number of different types of cellular wireless systems deployed around the world reduced. However those that were available enabled more and more data to be sent.
The phones themselves have undergone major evolutionary changes. The first phones were based on analogue technology, were very large and could certainly not be placed in a pocket like the phones of today. These first generation (1G) phone systems were overtaken in the early 1990s by the first digital systems.
High demand and limited frequency allocation meant that greater efficiency in the use of spectrum was required. The second-generation (2G) phone systems were introduced to meet this need.
As the usage of phones increased and people became more mobile, new applications emerged for using the phones for data transfer, such as to download information from the Internet or to send video. The resultant goal for systems was to provide a relatively high-speed data transfer capability. The third generation (3G) systems were able to provide a significant improvement in capability over the 2G systems.
Since then, 4G systems have emerged that have taken data capacity to new levels, with LTE (Long Term Evolution) being the frontrunner of these systems.
And finally, the next generation of wireless system is already in the melting pot with development started for 5G, a system touted to enable the IoT (Internet of Things) era to truly evolve.
Technology research and development for 5G is already underway, with estimates for network availability in 2020 and beyond.
One thing we know for sure is increasing mobile use equals increasing and evolving demand for mobile data. Getting ahead of the curve will be key to continued success in the 5G age.
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