Cellular Generations Explained

With so many people talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and many new cellular terms being thrown around, it can be a little hard to follow. You need to know what is coming, what is going, and how to choose between all of the different choices. Today, I am going to briefly explain the differences between cellular generations and their relevance to users of cellular technology.

1G. The G stands for Generation. The 1st Generation or 1G can cover everything from Alexander Graham Bell's invention to the cordless phones that we had in our houses in the early 2000s. In order for the phones to call or connect to other phones, they required a physical line connection to the house or building, which was then connected to a Central Office operated by a local telephone company. To make calls to many other regions required long-distance connections and charges. There were capabilities of data connections to these 1G phone lines, which included AOL dial-up modem internet connections and faxing.

2G. The Second Generation brought about cellular or mobile phones. To make or receive calls no longer required a physical connection to a building. These new phones now could connect to cellular towers. This new technology allowed a user to be traveling and could stay on a call while the network seamlessly switched the connection from one cellular tower to the next while the caller(s) was on the move. These new cell phones also provided the ability to text other cell users; however, only using the zero through 9 key made articulating messages slow and clumsy. However, on these 2G phones, you had the awkward manual raising and lowering of the antenna.

3G. This 3rd Generation technology offered cell phone users faster speeds. These 3G phones now offered "qwerty" keyboards for easier texting. In addition, you could now more easily access websites and could quickly look at pictures. There was the possibility to watch videos. However, patience was usually required because seeing the buffering symbol was common.

4G. The 4th Generation is what really brought the internet to our phones. Not only could we instantly watch videos, but we were also able to navigate multi-page websites like Google and Amazon and scroll through pictures and pages quickly. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and many others enabled us to communicate in so many other ways than just talking and texting.

5G. The term 5G stands for Fifth Generation. The object of 5G is to make just about every internet-connected device run on the 5G network. This is because it offers significantly more bandwidth for more devices and will allow for upload and download speeds that are 100 times faster, all with less latency and more reliable than the current 4G LTE.

According to MWCA, their predictions are that only 49% of connected devices will be 5G in 2025, with 4G still holding 45%. 5G is coming, and with it, many new possibilities will be available, but 4G will still be around for quite a while as well.

As adoption grows and the carriers invest more and more resources into the new technology, IoT will continue to expand and be an even larger part of all of our lives.

For help with your IoT connectivity needs, talk to one of OptConnect’s experts today at 877-678-3343.

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