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A Closer Look at The Telecommunications Generations

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

A Brief Background

Increasingly, the term "5G" is used by the media, whether in scientific dissemination, sale of phone plans, the term is currently in vogue. But at the end of the day, what is 5G?

In a world increasingly dependent on the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, related technologies have been discussed and used for a long time.

From the first 3G packages that made it possible to use the internet on cell phones, to the most currently used 4G and its ramifications.

This terminology, a number accompanied by a letter "G" has a common story: an evolution in the technology of transmitting information without the use of wires that begins with the first cell phones, in the late 1970s, early 1980s.

Since then, a lot has happened and, although the principle of wireless data transmission remains, the way in which this has happened has changed generation after generation, from the so-called "1G" of the first cell phones, to the "5G" that each has increasingly become a technology of the present rather than the future.

5G, the fifth generation of wireless devices, promises a much higher data transmission speed, compared to previous generations, in a much more dynamic way, enabling communication between different devices, connecting, without the use of cables and larger structures. between these devices.

The technologies associated with this generation of telecommunications will allow a wider range of applications in the use of this data, supported by a series of technologies that will make this revolution possible.

To better understand how we arrived at 5G technology, it is worth going through all the previous generations, which will help us understand what is so innovative and revolutionary about 5G

1G Technology

The first generation of mobile telephony uses analog waves to transmit information.

With it, the first communications were possible without the use of a cable structure connecting two users.

Due to the use of analog waves, there were security problems between conversations, since, by tuning in to the correct frequency, it would be possible to trace a call.

Used wavelength: 800-900 MHz

Speed from about 1 kbps to 2.4 kbps

2G Technology

Technology from the 1980s and 1990s, it is an evolution in relation to the first generation, mainly through the use of digital signals instead of analog signals, not only increasing the security of the transmitted data, but also increasing its range of action.

It now also covers the transmission of textual data at a considerably higher speed rate compared to 1G (14 - 64 kbps), working mainly in two frequency bands: 850 - 1900 MHZ (GSM) and 825 - 849 MHz (CDMA).

GSM is an acronym for Global System for Mobile Communications, and CDMA an acronym for Code Division Multiple Access, both telecommunications technologies that create access methods for channels in communication systems, thus incorporating new technologies.

Examples of these technologies can be fast messaging (SMS), internet roaming, conference calling, and many other new features.

Between the years 2000 and 2003, a new evolution based on 2G technology was developed, known as “2.5G” technology.

It has a transitional character between the technology launched in the 90s for the 3G technology that had not yet been implemented.

In it, the data transmission speed was considerably increased again, going to a range of about 115 to 384 kbps depending on new telecommunications technologies: GPRS and EDGE, with a frequency of use from 850 to 1900 MHz, supporting its new operation, features and speed to the new telecommunications technologies GPRS and EDGE.

Tecnologia 3G

Years 2000, an evolution in relation to the last generation, increasing again the frequency spectrum used, new significant improvements in relation to the speed and scope of use of the transmitted data.

Three new telecommunications technologies were developed to achieve the proposed objectives: UMTS, CDMA and TD-SCDMA technologies. An important point regarding the evolution of 3G is the fact that, despite improvements and new implementations, compatibility with 2G networks still exists, enabling a gradual transition between users from different regions without a massive and mandatory implementation.

It has speeds between 384 kbps to 1 mbps, using frequency spectrums between 8Hz and 2.5 GHz.

In 3G, as a technological evolution, there is high-speed internet, improving existing services, in addition to the addition of new usability through this technology, such as use for entertainment in games or music.

As in the example of the second generation, the third generation also has updates of intermediate technologies that were part of the transition between these generations: the “3.5G”.

3.5G emerged as an evolution in terms of data transmission speed, achieving transmissions at speeds of up to 14 mbps, supported by a new telecommunications technology, HSDPA.

4G Technology

In the following decade, the creation of new telecommunications technologies enabled the establishment of the fourth generation of telecommunications, with frequencies used being quite variable according to the geographic region, but following LTE standards, short for Long Term Evolution, a new communications standard that uses already developed telecommunications technologies, such as GSM, for example.

New features, such as the use of data for the real-time transmission of high definition television, streaming services, supported by a network speed ranging from 100 mbps to 1 gbps.

5G Technology

Throughout the evolutions between the telecommunications generations, since the second generation, which started the use of digital signals for data transmission, what has been happening is a progressive evolution in relation to the frequency band used, speeds and a certain expansion of the data usability, according to protocols, technologies and data transmission speeds, focusing mainly on user interaction with data, whether through calls, texts, streaming music, movies and series.

With the direct development of its technology dating back to the late 2000s, 5G emerges as a revolution in terms of data transmission and how they are connected, both by users and by devices with each other.

With this, it is possible to create data transmission networks that are more independent of the final interaction with the user and, progressively, more intelligent.

In 5G technology, speeds grow significantly, with expected transmission speeds between 1 and 10 Gbps, with a gigantic expansion of the frequency spectrum used, increasingly using unoccupied spectrums, which would help to relieve congested traffic. of data at the same frequencies used for decades.

This use of high frequencies requires a differentiated handling of these short-amplitude waves, due to the characteristics of these waves of attenuation of their signal by weather, such as physical disturbances such as rain, excessive winds or even barriers such as trees or buildings.

For problems like this, new technologies are emerging, such as beamforming, small cells and Full Duplex, with which the difficulties arising from the use and transmission of data so quickly, continuously and between multiple devices are circumvented.

Small Cells are small receivers capable of receiving and sending high frequency waves with low energy use, in 5G technology increasingly used.

These small antennas are already used today for amplification of local signals, or in more isolated regions, but their use promises to be widespread so that it is possible to capture the highest frequency signals satisfactorily.

Signal processing technique for a combined antenna system, selecting and directing where the signal will be sent.

As it presents problems of signal attenuation, given the characteristics of high frequency waves, the beamforming technique, combined with small cells, plays an essential role in the safe transmission and without much data loss, where the signals to be sent are sent in a directly, accurately and with the least possible interference between the signals.

Especially good for densely populated environments with large entrances and exits

The duplex itself is a communication system in which the communication between two interlocutors can be done in both directions.

This communication can be divided between half-duplex and full-duplex, which differ in that half-duplex does not allow the simultaneous transmission of data on the same frequency, whereas in full-duplex this is possible.

This doubled capacity for data reception and transmission plays an essential role in the great speed increase proposed by 5G networks and devices.

Final Impressions

With all that has been discussed, it is now clearer why the fifth generation of telecommunications has such a promising future, precisely because it does not represent a simple evolution in relation to the old model of data transmission without the use of cables, but a revolution in the transmission, handling and treatment of data, pointing to a future that is less and less dependent on large data transmission structures, increasingly faster and more penetrating in regions further away from large urban centers.

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