3G or Third Generation mobile services comply with the IMT-2000 standards specifications. They use Wideband – Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) technique for multiplexing users. This is similar to having a group of people in a room and each one talking to another in a different language which appears like gibberish to those who do not know the language. The data from individual is scrambled using codes and for users without the code, the data appear as noise. 3G uses HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and HSPA+ technologies for data which provide a minimum data rate of 2MB/s to stationary users and 384 KB/s to users in motion. The introduction of 3G services also helped in the speeding up the conversion of telecommunication networks from the traditional circuit switched type to IP base packet switched networks.
4G or Fourth Generation mobile services was designed in the light of increased use of data services which came by with the introduction of 3G and cheaper smartphones. It uses OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) for downlink from the base station to the mobile phone and Single Carrier – Frequency Division Multiple Access (SC-FDMA) for uplink from the mobile phones to the base station. 4G offers data rates as high as 1GB/s compared to speeds in a 3G network, accessing data in 4G is as fast as driving a Ferrari. 4G uses an all IP network. All devices and nodes in the network can support and recognise IP, and ensure lesser latency with a flatter network (the network does not have multiple hierarchical elements).
Technology wise, 3G is nothing like 4G, there are different networks, channels, different bands frequencies, duplexing, throughput, excreta. The only thing that you’ll really notice is speed, and because it cost less to transmit than 3G, you should notice that it is less expensive too.
If that was too technical, think about how cars have evolved; the first cars were slower and very basic, while today’s cars practically drive themselves. As car makers improved their engineering, the performance improved as well. Cars became more reliable, luxuries and more powerful. In all, the car’s purpose didn’t change much – people still drive them to get somewhere, and in some regards, wireless technology is not much different. People still use wireless technology the same way they did in the beginning, except today, we use a lot more – way more.
What are the standards of the G’s?
Each of the Generations has standards that must be met to officially use the G terminology. Those standards are set by standard organisations. The standards themselves are quite confusing but the advertisers know how to manipulate them. I will try to simplify the terms a bit.
- 1G – A term never widely used until 2G was available. This was the First Generation of cell phone technology. Simple phone calls were all it was able to do.
- 2G – The Second Generation of cell phone transmission. A few features were added to the menu such as simple text messaging.
- 3G – This Generation set the standards for most of the wireless technology we have come to know and love. Web browsing, e-mail, video downloading, picture sharing and other smartphone technology features were introduced in the Third Generation. 3G should be capable of handling around 2Megabytes per second.
- 4G- The speed and standard of this technology of wireless needs to be at least 100 Megabytes per second and up to 1 Gigabytes per second to pass as 4G. it also needs to share the network resources to support more simultaneous connections on the cell. As it develops, 4g could surpass the speed of the average wireless broadband home internet connection. Few devices were capable of the full throttle when the technology was first released. Coverage of the true 4G was limited to large metropolitan areas. Outside of the covered areas, 4G phones regressed to the 3G standard. When 4G first became available, It was simply a little faster than 3G. 4G is not the same as 4G LTE which is very close to meeting the criteria of the standards. The major wireless networks were not actually lying to anyone when 4G first rolled out, they simply stretched the truth a bit. A 4G phone had to comply with the standards but finding the network resources to fulfil the true standard was difficult. You were buying 4G capable devices before the networks were capable of delivering true 4G to the device. Your brain knows that 4G is faster than 3G, so you pay the price for the extra speed. The same will probably be true when 5G hits the markets.
- 4G LTE – Long Term Evolution – LTE sounds better. This buzzword is a version of 4G that is the latest advertised technology and is getting very close to the speeds needed as the standards are set. When you hear about LTE Advanced, then we will be talking about true Fourth Generation wireless technologies because they are the only tow formats recognised by the International Telecommunicarions Union as True 4G at this time. But forget about that because 5G is coming soon to a phone near you. Then there is XLTE which is a bandwidth of 4GLTE and is available anywhere the AWS spectrum is initiated. Some companies like T-Mobile, Verizon have advanced to the LTE technology with each carrier adding their own combination of wireless technologies, including XLTE, to enhance the spectrum of development.
- 5G – There are rumours of 5G being tested, although the specifications of 5G have not been formally clarified. We can expect that new technology to be rolled out around 2021 but in this fast-paced world, it will probably be much sooner than that. Seems like a long way away but times flies and so will 5G speeds of 1-10 GB/s.