The Evolution of Mobile Network Architecture (1G-5G)

Last Updated on November 1, 2022

Mobile Network

The first country to offer 5G (the fifth generation of mobile network) service was South Korea on December 1, 2018, and it’s safe to say that the mobile sector has come a long way since the first mobile call was placed in 1973. Our world has changed in unexpected ways as a result of mobile technology.

Since 2018, 5G has been embraced by numerous nations. Even MTN has launched its 5G offerings in Nigeria. The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are expected to grow as a result of the widespread implementation of 5G. There have been astounding improvements in data-carrying capacity and latency with each new generation of wireless protocols, denoted by the letter “G,” and 5G will be no different.

It’s helpful to map the relentless expansion of wireless network architectures from the first generation (1G) to where we are now, on the verge of a global 5G rollout, in order to really comprehend how we got here.

1G – First Generation

The initial iteration of mobile phone technology was this. The first generation of commercial cellular networks was launched in the late 1970s, and standards were largely defined by the 1980s.

Australia received its first cellular mobile phone network using a 1G analogue system in 1987, thanks to Telecom (now Telstra). The radio signals utilised by 1G are analogue, which means that rather than being encoded to digital data, the voice of a call is modulated to a higher frequency.

Analogue signals deteriorate over time and place, which causes voice data to frequently be of poor quality during calls and occasionally results in dropped calls. In contrast, because digital is a representation of analogue stored as signals, more data may be transported more successfully.

The top 1G speed is 2.4 Kbps. These are the analogue communications standards that were established in the 1980s and used until 2G digital communications took their place.

2G – Second Generation

In Finland in 1991, the second generation of mobile networks, or 2G, was introduced using the GSM protocol. Communications could now be encrypted for the first time, and digital voice calls were much crisper with less static and background crackling.

However, 2G was about much more than just communications; it contributed to nothing less than a cultural revolution. People may now send text messages (SMS), image messages (MMS), and multimedia messages (MMS) on their phones for the first time. The digital future that 2G offered replaced the analogue past of 1G. This resulted in unprecedented levels of widespread acceptance among both consumers and corporations.

Despite the fact that 2G’s first data transfer rates were only about 9.6 kbit/s, operators hurried to invest in new infrastructure such as mobile cell towers. By the conclusion of the era, EDGE connections could deliver up to 500 kbit/s of speed, and speeds of 40 kbit/s were also feasible. Despite its slow speeds, 2G transformed business and altered the course of history.

3G – Third Generation

NTT DoCoMo introduced 3G in Japan in 2001 with a focus on standardising vendor network protocols. Users’ ability to access data from any location allowed for the start of international roaming services.

When compared to 2G, 3G had four times the capacity for data transfer, with typical speeds of up to 2 Mbps. This growth made live video chat (like Skype) and video streaming as well as video conferencing a reality. Another common method of communication on mobile devices is email.

But the mobile internet and music streaming capabilities of 3G—which at the time only supported basic HTML pages—were truly revolutionary. Even though 2G offered the same functionality, its download speeds lagged behind those of 3G.

As the 3G era went on, network upgrades raised speeds and support. Smartphones were new, even if candy-bar and flip phones were common alternatives in the 3G era. With the help of this new technology, consumers could use their mobile devices to browse the internet, make calls, send texts, and listen to music.

The first iPhone didn’t launch until 2007, yet it quickly became the industry standard for smartphones and cell phones. As smartphones became popular, the demand for faster data and increased network capabilities was only a few years away.

4G – Fourth Generation

The fourth generation is an entirely IP-based network system that was introduced in 2010. The IEEE developed 4G technologies, which offer a greater data rate and are capable of handling more sophisticated multimedia services.

With the LTE system, voice and data may be transmitted simultaneously, greatly enhancing the data rate. Transmission over IP packets is possible for all services, including phone services. Uplink and downlink capacity are multiplied via carrier aggregation and complicated modulation methods.

It has more to do with the standards established by the International Telecommunication Union’s Radio communication Sector(ITU-R) than the technology it employs. International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced(IMT-Advanced) is the name of these norms. The lengthy number of standards has prevented the 4G spectrum from being adopted quickly because of its complexity.

A short while later, 4G LTE was unveiled. LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, is more of a method for achieving 4G speeds than it is a technology. The 3G network architecture was completely redesigned and simplified, which led to a considerable decrease in transfer latency and an increase in network efficiency and speed.

5G – Fifth Generation

To provide users with extremely fast internet and multimedia experiences, the 5G network uses cutting-edge technologies. Future 5G networks will be enhanced versions of the current LTE Advanced networks.

The 5G network will operate in standalone and non-standalone modes in earlier deployments. Both the 5G-NR and LTE spectrums will be utilised in non-standalone mode. Control signalling will operate in a non-standalone manner while linked to the LTE core network.

A dedicated 5G core network with a higher capacity 5G NR spectrum will be available for standalone mode. FR1 sub-6-GHz spectrum is utilised in the first 5G network deployments.

5G technology will transmit data using unlicensed airwaves and millimetre waves to obtain a greater data rate. A complex modulation mechanism has been devised to support the huge data rate involved in the Internet of Things, the Metaverse and Web 3.0. The functionality and analytical capabilities for business, autonomous vehicles, healthcare, and security applications will be expanded by cloud-based network architecture.

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