Over the past 12 months, one of the biggest discussions when it comes to mobile technology has been regarding 5G connectivity. While there was much hoopla initially around the 5G network, things have since simmered down. Due to the lack of proper infrastructure, it will take another 12-18 months for the 5G network to roll out in the country. While the 5G spectrum auctions were expected to happen by September of this year, there is still no word regarding the government’s immediate plans, and by when Indian consumers can taste the much-hyped and vaunted 5G connectivity.
That said, there is no doubt that the 5G network will significantly reduce latency, while providing unprecedented download speeds. Before 5G ever came into existence, it was 4G technology that significantly improved our download speeds. However, it all began with 1G, or the first generation of mobile networks, which was launched in Tokyo, Japan in 1979. With a lot of emphasis now being placed on mobile networks, it is fascinating to look at the evolution of mobile wireless standards from 2G, to 3G, 4G and finally, 5G.
2G, or the second generation of mobile networks was initially launched in Finland back in ‘91. It was during then that for the first time ever, calls could be encrypted, while digital voice calls were much clearer as compared to before, with less static. Because of 2G, people could send text messages to each other in the form of SMS, along with picture messages and multimedia messages (MMS). While the speeds were very less (around 9.6 kbit/s initially), before 3G came along, the speeds increased up to 500 kbit/s through EDGE connections.
Launched by NTT DoCoMo in 2001, the third generation of mobile networks was aimed to standardize the network protocol followed by vendors. This essentially meant that mobile users could access data from anywhere in the world in the form of data packets, which made international roaming services possible. Furthermore, 3G was at least four times faster than 2G, and enabled users to connect with each other via video conferencing and voice over IP.
4G – The Era of Streaming
While the transition between 2G and 3G was relatively smooth, with users just having to replace their SIM cards, 4G required 4G-enabled handsets. First used in Stockholm, Sweden and in Oslo, Norway, 4G offered faster internet, with speeds up to 1 Gigabit/s. These speeds led to users enjoying HD videos, along with high-quality video conferencing services. Mobile manufacturers jumped on the opportunity to offer 4G-enabled handsets, which also led to Apple’s ascension to the top of the smartphone industry. Some of the best mobile under 12000 INR that are 4G-enabled include Realme Narzo 10, and Vivo Y91.
In India, it took some time for mobile phone users to switch from 3G to 4G. In fact, a recent survey revealed that around 81 percent of Indian mobile phone users currently use 4G networks, while the rest still rely on 3G and 2G networks. This number, however, rose from 56 percent in 2017, when a whopping 36 percent of mobile phone users still relied on 3G networks.
5G – Internet of Things Era
5G, or the fifth generation of mobile networks is expected to change the way we live and communicate with each other. Similar to 4G-enabled handsets, for the consumers to enjoy 5G connectivity, it is imperative that they switch to 5G-enabled smartphones. While there is still some time before the Indian telecom operators roll out with 5G networks, OEMs have already launched 5G mobile phone, which includes high-end devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, along with mid-range phones, with the OnePlus Nord being a prime example. 5G is expected to substantially increase download speeds, and will certainly make our lives much easier.