The History of Wireless Communication Technology

Wireless communication technology is arguably one of the most important cornerstones to the advancement of the human race itself.

Wireless communication technology is arguably one of the most important cornerstones to the advancement of the human race itself. The introduction of wireless communication technology impacted the way humans communicate with each other, and eventually, how they communicate with their devices.

The evolution of wireless technology began with the analog, voice-only network, made the jump to a digital, data-based network, and has been improving ever since. At present, we are in the era of the 5th generation of wireless communication technology, while the 6th is already in the works. Check out some of the features of each generation.

Photo by Chad Madden / Unsplash

The History of Wireless Communication Technology

The first generation was not known by that term until after the second generation was introduced. 1G basically featured cell phone technology which enabled voice calls. It was based on the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) technology. This generation was limited in a lot of areas including coverage - it only allowed calls in one country, security - calls made could easily be tapped into by a third party, voice quality, battery life and speed - the maximum speed for 1G was 2.4kbps.

2nd Generation

The Second Generation of wireless communication was a major technological leap. The analog system was completely scrapped and a switch was made to a digital, more efficient system. This translated into increased security and capabilities. The second generation ushered in many features which are still in use till date, such as SMS, MMS, roaming, conference calls, etc. The data speed for second generation devices could go up to 64kbps.

However, the devices required strong digital signals in order to be functional. While the second generation was a major step from the first, it was still unable to handle complex data such as videos. During the second generation, there were also improvements made which resulted in 2.5G and 2.75G. The initial technology upon which 2G was based is the GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communication), and later improvements saw the introduction of GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution).

Texting at Night
Photo by Becca Tapert / Unsplash

3rd Generation

The third generation was based on a technology known as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) in Europe or CDMA2000 (Code Division Multiple Access) in America, which was combined with EDGE (from 2G). 3G brought about the introduction of smartphones, with features like web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing and other smartphone technology that we still use till date.

Speed and communication was faster, capabilities were increased and of course, the prices went up too. Third Generation devices could go up to 2mbps, quite an improvement compared to its predecessor. 3G also had high
speed web, enabling video conferencing, streaming, mobile TV, 3D mobile gaming, faster downloads, etc, with even more security. However, the phones were large and expensive, and required high bandwidth.

4th Generation

High speed + high quality + high capabilities +lower costs = 4G. The Fourth Generation of wireless communication technology, which is currently in use, boasts of speeds of up to 1Gbps high quality streaming videos, better security, better battery life, and increased range of capabilities. It utilizes the Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. The 4G was designed to be able to provide any service based on user requirements. However, it is not without its shortcomings as it requires complicated hardware, expensive equipment and is quite hard to implement.

5th Generation

5G is forecasted to be a complete wireless communication system with no limitations. It is highly supportable to WWWW (Wireless World Wide Web). Some of its features include higher speeds, greater capacities, HD clarity on videos and video streaming, higher audio clarity, faster data transmissions, larger phone memory, interactive multimedia, and so many more. 5G is more effective and more attractive than any of the generations before it. However, 5G is not readily available yet. It has been launched in certain cities of the world (theoretically, 29 countries) but coverage is still quite limited. Many countries have promised to roll out the 5G service in 2020 and 2021.

Photo by NASA / Unsplash

6th Generation

The 6th Generation of wireless communication technology is still a work in progress. Extensive research is currently being carried out on the possibility of 6G. However, it would take a while for 6G to be implemented considering that 5G is still in its infancy. Some of the proposed features of 6G include extreme speeds (1Tbps), more reliability, less latency, optimization for connected robotics, virtual reality simulations and fully autonomous system of drones, wireless brain-to-computer interactions, and many other ground breaking features which are to be seen.

For now, we look forward to 5G.


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