The telecommunications era has made great strides and the technological evolution of the mobile network has allowed the emergence of new devices and new services.
The 3G it has opened the doors to the Internet and new multimedia services accessible from the mobile network; The 4G has just started to spread to our smartphones and tablets but there is already talk of the next generation, the 5G, the technology that will allow us to develop digital services that were unthinkable until now.
Future developments are looming, near and far, which for some time will continue alongside the 2G and 3G generations that preceded them. But how have mobile telecommunications generations changed over the years? What will the introduction of 5G mean?
From 1G to 4G: past and present of mobile telecommunications
Mobile communication has evolved greatly in just a few decades, in which the various generations of devices and networks compatible with the new telecommunications standards have come and gone.
The first generation systems, which appeared in the 1980s under the acronym 1G, transmitted in analogue mode and were only able to handle voice traffic.
The quality of communication offered by first generation mobile phones, decidedly bulky equipment, had obvious limitations linked to the type of signal, such as poor audio quality and frequent interruptions.
With the aim of improving transmission quality, system capacity and signal coverage, the second generation of mobile networks 2G marked a breaking point with previous technology, focusing entirely on the transition to digital introduced by the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) standard. Born in Europe in the early 90s, to date the GSM, implemented by its subsequent evolutions, stands as the mobile telephony standard with the largest number of users worldwide.
The use of digital marked the birth of the first data transmission services, in the form of text messages SMS (Short Message Service), multimedia messages MMS (Multimedia Message Service) e WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), the standard that allowed access to specific Internet content from a mobile phone.
All this was made possible by the evolutions of the GSM standard, the generation 2.5G, a cross between the second GSM and the third generation UMTS.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technology first, followed by EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution) technology, allowed an increase in connection speed based on a new packet switching data transmission system.
Third generation technologies are launched worldwide in the early 2000s; the new international 3G mobile telephony standards follow the IMT-2000 technical specifications defined by the ITU, International Telecommunications Union, with the objective of creating a global mobile communication system for global roaming of terminals. Among these, it UMTS standard (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), still current and the most used in Europe, is also an evolution of GSM. The introduction of W-CDMA protocol (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), a particular multiple access technology to the radio channel for third generation cellular networks, has allowed the UMTS standard to offer further speeding up data transfer. The performance of UMTS, improved by the use of HSPA transmission protocols (High Speed Packet Access) have favored the expansion and higher quality of multimedia services available from mobile networks, allowing for example to make smooth video calls and surf the Internet by being able to access the desktop version of websites.
The acronym 4G identifies the fourth and current generation of mobile telephone services. There LTE technology (Long Term Evolution), and its most recent evolution LTE Advanced (LTE-A), were developed in the late 2000s to increase the performance of 4G cellular networks, sending and receiving data at a connection speed capable of competing with the speed of home connections. Thanks to ever-increasing network coverage and the increase in devices capable of supporting it, more and more smartphones and tablets can browse and access the cloud, streaming services and video conferences in high definition without slowdowns or interruptions, made possible by the fast and by the reduction of latency times achieved by 4G networks.
5G: the new frontier of mobile technology
Telecommunications operators and industry experts are already engaged in the research and development of 5G, the technological infrastructure capable of further improving the data transmission speed of current networks to support the growing number of users and services accessible via mobile networks.
The International Telecommunication Union is starting to outline the IMT-2020 guidelines on which the new 5G standard will be based, thanks to which we will be able to navigate from smartphones and tablets at a theoretical maximum speed of 20 Gbps, up to 20 times faster than the theorized maximum speed for 4G (1 Gbps).
The new generation of mobile technology, which according to ITU forecasts could start to be available from 2020, in addition to offering greater speed with very low latency times, will be able to connect a very high number of devices per square kilometer and maintain the connection even while traveling to very high speeds.
5G will provide new and better communication services, improve performance in gaming and augmented reality, and will also allow us to better develop the so-called "Internet of Things (IoT)”: more and more devices, from wearable devices to the most varied common objects equipped with an electronic identity, will be able to communicate online and be remotely controllable.
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