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What is 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G? You Need to Know

The "G" stands for "GENERATION" . When you connected to internet, the speed of your internet is depends upon your (Service provider) signal strength that has been shown in alphabets like 2G, 3G, 4G etc. right next to the signal bar on your home screen. Each Generation is defined as a set of telephone network standards , which detail the technological implementation of a particular mobile phone system. The speed increases and the technology used to achieve that speed also changes. For eg, 1G offers 2.4 kbps, 2G offers 64 Kbps and is based on GSM, 3G offers 144 kbps-2 mbps whereas 4G offers 100 Mbps - 1 Gbps and is based on LTE technology.

2G/3G/4G/5G are the names of different generations of cellular technologies. Each generation uses different technologies to transmit data and offers higher speeds over the previous generation. For example 2G uses GSM primarily. UMTS and EDGE are classified as 3G. LTE advanced is classified as 4G. An international body called the International Telecommunication Union decides which technology should be classified under which generation based on the speeds offered.


The electromagnetic spectrum can be divided into broad regions based on frequency. One of this is the radio spectrum which ranges from 3Hz to 3000GHz. In this range there is a band of frequencies collectively called the cellular frequencies. Different transmission technologies are allocated different parts of this cellular frequency band to work with. This allocation varies by region and maybe even by operators in that region. For example GSM-900 and GSM-1800 are the most widely used GSM bands. This means that frequencies around 900MHz and 1800MHz are used for transmission in GSM. Similarly there are different bands for UMTS and LTE. So the band allocated to a particular technology in a particular region forms its frequency band. Hence the name 2/3/4G spectrum. These are regulated by governments. In India, Department of Telecommunications is responsible for frequency allocation and auction.

ELI5 of the above: Imagine there is a huge highway with many lanes drawn on it. You can send and receive cars using these lanes. The type of your car and the method by which you send and receive these cars forms the technology. This can be classified into generations. The collection of lanes on which you can operate these cars forms the band or spectrum for this technology or for your company.

"According to this article ONGC and satellite operators are worried about 5G. Is this justified?"
5G refers to new technologies operating in the millimetre wave bands. The frequency band over which 5G technologies operate(3300-3600MHz in India) overlaps with the frequency band used by satellites(3400-3600MHz). This is why ONGC and other satellite operators are worried.

"According to wiki the proportion of unsold spectrum in the 2015 auction was 11%. In 2016, it was 60%. Is the price too high or don't the telcos need that spectrum?"
Companies buy frequency bands based on their needs and prospective expansions weighing them against their budget. The fact that 60% of the spectrum was not sold could be a combination of both the factors you mentioned. 5G is expensive for companies to implement because it has high attenuation i.e. the waves can't travel for large distances without significant degradation. Whether they want to implement it will boil down to their budgets and the state of the market.

This is mostly based on what I have read about this topic from the internet. If anyone finds any inaccuracy I'll be happy to correct it.

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