We rely on our mobile phones to provide constant connectivity. In this video, you’ll learn about the history of of mobile technologies.
If you use a mobile phone to communicate, we often refer to these as cell phones. That’s because we’ve broken our geography into multiple cells, we placed an antenna where those cells meet, and we’re sending all of the communication across that particular area using that antenna.
When we first introduced cellular networks, we had what we called the 2G standard. There was one standard called GSM– this is the Global System for Mobile Communications– and another standard called CDMA– this is the Code Division Multiple Access. When these networks were first introduced, they were primarily for voice communication, but we found out very quickly that we could use this for data, and there were some minor changes to these 2G networks that allowed for some packet switching and sending of IP data.
During this time, we were dealing with two very different standards in the industry. The first, being GSM or the Global System for Mobile Communication, was a standard that was originally brought over from the European Union, and it had 90% of the market, and was used in many places around the world. In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile used this GSM standard, and it allowed you to take the SIM card from one phone, move it to another phone, and your subscription would move between those phones. This original GSM standard used multiplexing so that multiple users could communicate to one single tower over this single set of frequencies.
The competing standard was CDMA, the Code Division Multiple Access. Instead of using multiplexing, it used a code to be able to send multiple amounts of data at the same time, and you could filter out your data by filtering out the code on the other side. In the United States, the CDMA standard was used by Verizon and Sprint, and it was difficult to find any other organization using CDMA.
In 1998, we introduced the third generation of mobile networks, called 3G. This allowed us to have additional options for data connectivity that worked much better than the older 2G networks. This improved speeds and allowed us to send data and communicate via voice at the same time over the same network. This allowed us many different options for our mobile networks– we had GPS connectivity, mobile television, and other video services as well.
Eventually, though, we needed some way to merge together these two very diverse technologies, and we did that with the introduction of 4G and Long Term Evolution, or LTE. This allowed us to converge these two standards of GSM and CDMA providers into a single shared standard. It also increased the total amount of bandwidth available on these links to a maximum theoretical throughput of 150 megabits per second. There was also a minor improvement to LTE, called LTE Advanced or LTE-A, that doubled that download rate up to 300 megabits per second.
In 2020, the next generation of wireless connectivity was launched with 5G, or fifth generation mobile communication. This greatly improved the bandwidth available, using many different frequency options. With these higher frequencies, we will eventually see 10 gigabit per second throughput over these 5G networks, and over lower frequencies, we might even see 100 to 900 megabits of throughput.
This meant in certain situations that we could see throughputs over our mobile networks that are comparable to what we would get on our internal wired networks. This means anything that we’re doing on a local wired network, we could do on a mobile network, including internet of things connectivity, very large data transfers, and additional cloud processing.