The history and differences of 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G cellular networks
The 1980s brought the first generation—or 1G—of networks with voice-only, analog service. The top speed of data transmission on a 1G network reached around 2.4kbps.
The 2G network began in Finland in 1991, allowing cell phones to move into the digital world. 2G allowed for call and text encryption as well as SMS, picture messaging and MMS. The maximum speed for 2G was about 50kbps.
The advent of a 3G network with more data, video calling and mobile internet began in 1998. What we may now consider a “slow” network in many large municipalities was the height of technology until 4G came along. 3G networks reach 2mbps on stationary or non-moving devices and 384kbps on devices in moving vehicles.
4G, or the current standard of cellular networks, was released in the late 2000s and is 500 times faster than 3G. It has been able to support high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and much more. When a device is moving, as when you are walking with your phone or are in a car, the top speed can be 10s of mbps, and when the device is stationary, it can be 100s of mbps. The 20MHz bandwidth sector has peak capacity of 400Mbps. However, since users are sharing available sector capacity among others, observable speed experiences by users are typically in 10s -100s of mbps.
As more people get access to mobile devices and the Internet of Things expands, as many as 24 billion devices are expected to need cellular network support by 2024. That’s where 5G comes in.
Key differences between 4G and 5G
One of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G will be peak capacity and latency. For example, peak capacity of 5G UWB sector is in gbps compared to 4G in mbps. Also, the latency, or the time that passes from the moment information is sent from a device until it is used by a receiver, will be greatly reduced on 5G networks, allowing for faster upload and download speeds. Another big difference between 4G and 5G is bandwidth size. 5G should be able to support many more devices of the future, in addition to the network demands of connected vehicles and other devices in the Internet of Things.
What does all of this mean for you as a user and consumer? Greater amounts of information can transfer between devices faster than ever before, so high-density areas like airports and urban areas should experience fast speeds. Thanks to reduced latency and wider bandwidth, you should be able to stream a 4K video in seconds. 5G should be the network that will provide the speed and efficiency that everyone needs.
What’s the big deal about 5G? The Internet of Things
When understanding why 5G is a big deal, it’s important to know about the Internet of Things (IoT) and why 5G is expected to have an impact on it. IoT is the rapidly expanding collection of “things” that rely on the internet to collect, share, and transmit data. As technology has progressed, more and more “things” have joined the IoT universe. Ordinary objects like cars, watches, and thermostats have turned smart over the years and rely on the internet to gather and transmit data. Smartwatches, for instance, can use the internet to make phone calls and track fitness patterns. The innovation of making watches smart has since increased the number of things in the IoT, and the number will continue to grow as more advancements in technology are made.
With each generation of wireless communication, the IoT is set to expand. So what does this have to do with 5G? The number of IoT devices is projected to grow to 41 billion by 2027, and much of that increase is expected to be enabled by the expanded connectivity that 5G networks will eventually provide. 5G is also expected to be a big deal in powering the Industrial Internet of Things, or the IIoT, which is one of the largest subsets of the IoT. As IoT systems become enabled by 5G, industrial processes should improve and more opportunities for innovation should arise.
Through the growth of the IoT, new ideas for innovations in other industries are expected to be recognized and should continue to grow as 5G’s potential is further explored. As the IoT grows, technology should advance and help industries work more efficiently than ever. The growth of the IoT depends on 5G, which is why 5G is a big deal.
5G is here to bring big changes in wireless technology. Perhaps the biggest change that is talked about the most is the speed, as 5G can offer speeds considerably faster than what we’re used to with 4G LTE. When we think of higher wireless speeds, we think of quicker internet, faster downloads and more streaming on our mobile devices. But there are many more possibilities, as 5G is preparing to bring changes beyond what we expected.
Looking back at 4G
Consider how much wireless communication has evolved over the years. Since the previous generations of wireless communication, technology has evolved in ways that we only imagined would be possible. The very first generation of wireless communication was only able to support phone calls, and 4G is able to support video conferencing and high-quality streaming. Smartphones have evolved to the point where almost everything you need is right at your fingertips, and cars have started to develop with smarter capabilities. Unexpected changes have come to reality as wireless communication has evolved, and 5G is bound to bring changes that we never expected as well.
Changing public safety with 5G
One area where 5G could eventually make an impact is in public safety. What’s so important about the changes to public safety is that first response times could be cut shorter with the speeds of 5G. First responders could gather information and provide necessary assistance to those in need of it before they can arrive on the scene. With lower latency and high connection speeds, faster response times can be realized. Verizon is making developments with 5G and public safety through the launch of Verizon Frontline and with Verizon’s 5G First Responder Lab.
Changing automobiles with 5G
Another area where 5G could make a difference is with automated vehicles. With the help of the power and speed available with 5G, automated vehicles could eventually become a reality in the future.
Changes in public safety and automated vehicles are two of many changes we might expect as 5G begins to expand. As we get more familiarized with faster speeds, there may even be changes that 5G will bring that have not yet been discovered.
What is the 5G Revolution?
The 5G revolution is already making its way around the United States. The Verizon coverage map shows the current availability of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, which is currently available in parts of 70+ cities, and 5G Nationwide, which is currently available in 2700+ cities. As 5G continues to expand, people are going to feel the impact of the 5G revolution. Designed to have faster speeds, larger capacity and reduced latency, 5G is expected to be the key for innovation in tomorrow’s future. In particular, increased speeds can open new opportunities in public safety and business.
The 5G Revolution and Public Safety
The 5G revolution could open doors to new ways of improving public safety. Reliable, super-fast speeds, massive bandwidth, and low latency should greatly aid public safety officials in doing their jobs more efficiently. For instance, 5G’s ability to support larger volumes of high-quality video can give public safety officials a better understanding of a given emergency. This should give officials a more accurate picture of an incident, time to assess the situation properly and prepare effective ways to respond. 5G could also help ensure safe transportation for first responders. Verizon is already working to decrease emergency vehicle accidents through a 5G co-innovation project with Tom Tom that focuses on making intersections safer for emergency vehicles.
With 5G, more transformations to public safety are possible. As more countries roll out 5G networks, public safety can change for the better throughout the world.
The 5G Revolution and Business
While business and technology go hand-in-hand, the 5G revolution could also play a key role in the evolution of global business. As more countries roll out 5G networks, global business opportunities could grow exponentially, leading to new possibilities in products and services with the potential for an increase in productivity as well. The modern business world has shifted a great deal in the last year, and many businesses have become more familiarized with working with technology from outside of the office. With many businesspeople learning these remote working skills, the transition to working wirelessly with other offices in other parts of the world may become less of a foreign concept and more vital to success. 5G can further facilitate global connections by providing high speeds for secure video conferences and messaging.
Public safety and business are only two of the many industries that will be affected by the 5G revolution. With higher speeds in wireless communication, opportunities for innovation will only continue to grow as we learn to utilize the power of 5G.