Mobile Networks – 4G? GPRS?

Mobile Networks

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When you talk about a mobile network, most of us know them as 3G or 4G but what the heck does the G stand for? This part is simple, the G stands for which Generation of cellular networking your carrier is using. To start from the beginning, 1G was analogue, there was no roaming, no digital voice call encoding and not surprisingly, no mobile Internet capabilities. This started to be rolled out in the early 80’s. Now, 2G allowed voice calls to be transmitted using compression and allowed phones to become smaller due to reduced radio power requirements. Roaming was introduced but only if your carrier had the same type of 2G networks which was either CDMA or GSM. 2G Internet speeds were quite slow at this time but GPRS and Edge could deliver data rates over 200 kilobit per second which is required to call something 3G. Speaking of 3G, when this was introduced, everything was confused even more. As I mentioned, EDGE meets the data requirements for 3G and as such can be called a 3G service as it’s latest version ‘Evolved EDGE’ can deliver 1 megabit a second download speeds but in theory it’s a 2G service and ohh, it’s a confusing time.

Wireless-Network-Generations

Now to add to the confusion, the standards HSPA and HSPA+ can deliver pretty fast speeds of up to 100 megabyte per second access. So, does 4G clear up this mess? Sadly, no. It makes it even worse. The term is used by carriers to make you think they are ‘on the ball’ with upgrading their network. It actually has a few meanings. First of all, some companies refer to 4G as the HSPA+ standard I mentioned earlier which is really turbo charged 3G.

Because of this, many carriers call their networks 4G LTE or Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution networks. These offer enhanced voice quality and much faster download speeds of up to 300 megabytes per second, upload speeds are also increased. So we’re now pretty up to date as far as mainstream networks go. In the future LTE Enhanced or ‘True 4G’ will be rolled out because the current 4G technically isn’t 4G but they changed the definition for marketing purposes to lie to us all. This uses different LET frequency bands at once to increase speeds. Over in South Korea, one company is already using ‘Giga LTE’ which can currently offer speeds of over 1 gigabyte a second on compatable devices. In the future, 5G will be introduced which will allow gigabytes per second of transfer speeds which is 200 times faster than current 4G or the ‘not true 4G’ currently in use.

It’s expected to be rolled out in 2020. To compare, LTE Advanced would currently allow download speeds of up to 225 megabytes per second whilst 5G would allow download speeds of up to 50 Gigabytes per second which is fucking fast indeed. Now, as for beyond 5G, I doubt we’ll see it in the next 30 years if at all. I know speeds will probably be 10 terabyte per second one day but honestly, I don’t think I’ll live to see that day.

That is unless we can all live forever by then. So that’s the differences between mobile networks. If you have any comments to make, be sure to leave them below. Thanks for reading!

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