5G – A Brief History & What It Is

While the headlines for the greater part of 2020 have consistently been either pandemic or presidentially-centric, many other news-worthy innovations have happened — one of which is the introduction of 5G.

What is 5G?

5G stands for 5th Generation, as it is the fifth iteration of mobile networks in the world. This new wireless generation is meant to be an improvement on the previous four by being faster, having minimal lag or latency, and should generally make it so that the user of any piece of technology is experiencing optimum performance out of that device no matter where they are.

A Brief History of Mobile Network Generations

1G – Retro Reception

As with any new version of something, the latest and greatest generation of mobile networks was built upon its predecessors — as you can imagine, these are 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. The retroactively termed 1G era was the beginning of the mobile, take-with-you-anywhere evolution for phones. These were the 1980s big block cell phones that would cost you an arm and a leg to get and would get you a good workout by carrying it around with you. Initially created in Japan in the late 1970s, these phones became available in and gradually more popular from 1983 and beyond. Though these were clunky, big, and did not provide users with high quality coverage, they were the start of something that would become world-wide in reach.

2G – Clear Calls & Messaging

The Second Generation of mobile networks, or 2G, saw key milestone innovations on the first iteration of mobile technology such as text messaging and picture messaging. On top of this, improvements on call quality and security were evident with clearer connections and encrypted calling. These were also more compact and easy to carry versions of their predecessor and surprisingly more affordable too. Because these were more user and cost friendly than the previous versions, this is when the massive wave of adoption of the mobile phone began, with it only increasing steadily from there.

3G – WWW for Phones

The Third Generation of the Gs came about in 2001 where it ushered in yet another new wave of technology. I think of this iteration as the World Wide Web for phones as 3G made it possible for users to now make international calls. This aided in the growing world-wide connections that were coming for both businesses and individuals. This era is essentially began and was so successful due to the Blackberry which came about in 2002 — the perception of this phone was a work computer you could take anywhere. Between this new gadget and the ability to make international calls, business men and women now had the capability to take their business to any area of the globe.

This era also introduced to us all the capabilities of videos — meaning that things like video conferencing or messaging were becoming gradually more and more possible and available. Just as the Blackberry is an easy way to recall what tech was like in the era of 3G, Skype is this equivalent for video calling.

While we now take for granted that our phones can call other countries or that we can video into our family’s Thanksgiving dinner now, none of this would have been possible without 3G. This time in tech ended with the genesis of the iPhone in 2007. This invention would create the need for this Fourth Generation of mobile network.

4G – Speed, Speed, Speed

4G networks are 500 times faster than what we saw in the world of 3G. This is the primary improvement of 4G over 3G, speed improvements on the various offerings available in the world of 3G.

5G – Bye Bye Bandwidth Problems (& Lag)

The biggest difference between what we have seen until now with 4G and what we will experience with 5G is improvements in both the amount of and speed with which information can be transferred from phone to phone. Reduced latency and greater bandwidth will now make it possible for improved speed when it comes to all of the innovations in technology such casting from phone to TV or connecting far more IoT devices to your networks.

5G offers up improvements in network security with the introduction of IMSI encryption or International Mobile Subscriber Identity. Information sent via 5G networks is encrypted,¬†integrity protected, and subject to authentication on both the sender’s and recipient’s ends.

Image by starline for Freepik.