The evolution of wireless telecommunications: from 1G to 5G

Wireless telecommunication

The evolution of wireless telecommunications

Whether we are aware of it or not, the reality is that we depend and rely on fiber optic networks every day. And even if we don’t use fiber-optic Internet at home, we probably do use it in the palm of our hand. Thanks to smartphones, we can access the web easily, but we’ve come a long way from where we started. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of wireless telecommunications and how fiber optic services play such an important role.

The journey from 1G to 5G

First, let’s look at the meaning of 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G and the journey of the technologies over time. These are five different generations (hence the “G”) of mobile networks. Contrary to what one might think, mobile networks have been around since the 1980s, and every decade a new generation is released. A “generation” refers to a specific set of standards established for telephone networks. With each generation, the speed of these networks increases. In the early 1980s, 1G began to gain popularity around the world. During this time, we saw the first commercial cellular network using analog signals.

While innovative, there were a number of problems with this first generation. The phones generally had poor battery life and poor voice quality, and constant dropped calls were the norm. Phones were also much larger at this time, which made owning and using them quite uncomfortable.

In the early 1990s, 2G was beginning to emerge. This second generation used digital signals instead of analog and included a new digital tool for wireless transmission called Global System for Mobile (or GSM), which has been improved over the years. The main objective here was to provide a more reliable and secure communication option. During this time, features such as SMS, conference calling, call holding, internal roaming and more were introduced, and with higher data rates, the 2G standard could be used to send and receive text messages and emails.

By the early 2000s, 3G was already on the scene. This generation is the one that many of us first became familiar with when cell phones first became available to the masses. With this technological standard, tasks such as downloading videos, searching the Internet, sharing photos, making video calls, playing games and participating in social networking platforms became possible. The goal of 3G was to improve data capacity and data transmission services while maintaining low costs and the ability to support a wide range of applications.

On the cusp of 2010, 4G was introduced. By upgrading existing technology, LTE (or Long-Term Evolution) became standard during this generation. This has enabled devices to have higher data rates and greater capabilities for multimedia tasks. Faster speeds are standard for this generation, along with higher quality, improved security and lower costs.

And now we have the inclusion of 5G networks. This generation involves the development of new standards to support our growing Internet of Things (IoT). Importantly, 5G-equipped technologies are intended to further accelerate data while decreasing latency, improving capacity and reliability, and maintaining consistency and performance. While this generation is relatively new, it is intended to provide a more unified experience for everyone.

How fiber optic networks influence

With all that in mind, we wonder what factor fiber optic networks play in this whole equation. Over the past five years, the fiber optic cable manufacturing industry has grown by a staggering 11.8%. Part of the reason for this growth is that we now have a greater demand for fiber optic networks for mobile communications. While you may assume that you use wireless networks with these mobile devices, the reality is that wireless networks rely on fiber optics. To improve wireless capacity, you must first focus on fiber. You cannot increase the speed and capacity of mobile networks without giving fiber the credit it deserves. To put it bluntly, fiber optics is what gives wireless networks their power to begin with.

After reading this, and now that you are an expert in the evolution of wireless telecommunications, you may be eager to learn more about what a fiber optic network can do for you. For more information, please contact us today.

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