Evolution of Wireless Technologies in Mobile Communication

The first wireless transmission of Morse code signals using radio waves wireless to a distance of 3.2 KMs by Marconi in 1895 was the beginning of the wireless communication system that has gone through several evolution stages since then. With the introduction of the first generation mobile network in the early 1980s and huge demand for more connections worldwide, mobile communication standards advanced rapidly to support more users.

Wireless technology has been continuously evolving to meet increasing demands and higher specification requirements. Since the deployment of first-generation mobile networks, the telecommunication industry has been facing a lot of new challenges in terms of technology, efficient utilization of spectrum and most importantly security to end users. Future wireless technologies will provide ultra-fast, feature-rich and highly secure mobile networks.

  • The first generation mobile phone was invented by Martin Cooper, an engineer at Motorola during the 1970s working on a handheld device capable of two way communication wirelessly.
  • It was initially developed to be used in a car; the first prototype was tested in 1974.
  • This invention is considered as a turning point in wireless communication which led to an evolution of many technologies and standards in the future.
  • 1G, the first generation of the mobile network was deployed in Japan by Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Company (NTT) in Tokyo during 1979.
  • G system started in 1980 with the invention of mobile phone, which allowed for analog data to be transmitted via phone calls and it had many disadvantages due to technology limitations.
  • It gained popularity in the US, Finland, UK, and Europe at the beginning of the 1980s.
  • 2G, the second generation of mobile communication system introduced a new digital technology for wireless transmission also known as Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), as a replacement for 1G analog cellular network.
  • SMS and MMS capabilities were launched as this standard was capable of supporting up to 14.4 to 64kbps (maximum) data rate which is sufficient for SMS and email services.
  • GSM technology became the base standard for further development in wireless standards later.
  • Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) system developed by Qualcomm also introduced and implemented in the mid-1990s has more features than GSM in terms of spectral efficiency, number of users and data rate.
  • 2G networks became the global standard for mobile communications, with over 90% market share, operating in over 193 countries and territories, as on 2014.
  • 3G, third-generation mobile communication started with the introduction of UMTS – Universal Mobile Terrestrial / Telecommunication Systems.
  • UMTS has the data rate of 384kbps and it supports video calling for the first time on mobile devices.
  • After the introduction of the 3G mobile communication system, smartphones became popular across the globe.
  • Specific applications were developed for smartphones which handle multimedia chat, email, video calling, games, social media, and healthcare.
  • 4G, the fourth-generation systems are an enhanced version of 3G networks developed by IEEE, offers higher data rate and capacity to handle more advanced multimedia services.
  • 4G use LTE and LTE advanced wireless technology.
  • 4Gt has compatibility with the previous version, thus easier deployment and upgrade of LTE and LTE advanced networks are possible.
  • With 4G’s massive increased capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network, more data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.
  • 5G, the fifth generation communication system, launched on 3 April 2019 will be using advanced technologies to deliver ultra-fast internet and multimedia experience for customers, which is expected to be up to 1000 times faster than the currently used 4G.
  • Current LTE advanced networks will transform into supercharged 5G networks in the future.
  • 5G technology will use millimeter waves and unlicensed spectrum for data transmission to achieve a higher data rate.
  • Cloud-based network architecture will extend the functionalities and analytical capabilities for industries, autonomous driving, healthcare and security applications.
  • Key features of 5G technology are:
    • Ultra-fast mobile internet up to 10Gbps
    • Low latency in milliseconds (significant for mission-critical applications)
    • Total cost deduction for data
    • Higher security and reliable network
    • Uses technologies like small cells, beamforming to improve efficiency
    • Forward compatibility network offers further enhancements in future
    • Cloud-based infrastructure offers power efficiency, easy maintenance, and upgrade of hardware
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