2G vs 3G vs 4G vs 5G vs 6G

Simply, the "G" stands for "GENERATION" . While you connected to internet, the speed of your internet is depends upon the 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 .

Generations of Mobile Networks

The aim of wireless communication is to provide high quality, reliable communication just like wired communication(optical fibre) and each new generation of services represents a big step(a leap rather) in that direction. This evolution journey was started in 1979 from 1G and it is still continuing to 5G. Each of the Generations has standards that must be met to officially use the G terminology. There are institutions in charge of standardizing each generation of mobile technology. Each generation has requirements that specify things like throughput, delay, etc. that need to be met to be considered part of that generation. Each generation built upon the research and development which happened since the last generation. 1G was not used to identify wireless technology until 2G, or the second generation, was released. That was a major jump in the technology when the wireless networks went from analog to digital .

1G - First Generation

This was the first generation of cell phone technology . The very first generation of commercial cellular network was introduced in the late 70's with fully implemented standards being established throughout the 80's. It was introduced in 1987 by Telecom (known today as Telstra), Australia received its first cellular mobile phone network utilising a 1G analog system. 1G is an analog technology and the phones generally had poor battery life and voice quality was large without much security, and would sometimes experience dropped calls . These are the analog telecommunications standards that were introduced in the 1980s and continued until being replaced by 2G digital telecommunications. The maximum speed of 1G is 2.4 Kbps .

2G - Second Generation

Cell phones experienced a significant advancement when they transitioned from 1G to 2G. The primary distinction between these two mobile telephone systems lies in the nature of their radio signals, with 1G utilizing analog signals and 2G employing digital signals. The primary objective of this transition was to establish secure and reliable communication channels, which necessitated the adoption of CDMA and GSM concepts. Notably, 2G networks introduced crucial features, including SMS and MMS services, elevating data communication capabilities alongside voice communication.

The commercial launch of 2G cellular telecom networks on the GSM standard occurred in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj) in 1991. To achieve the capabilities of 2G, multiplexing was utilized, allowing multiple users on a single channel. This enabled the integration of voice and data services on cellular phones. Noteworthy advancements from 1G to 2G encompassed essential services such as SMS, internal roaming, conference calls, call hold, and billing based on services like charges for long-distance calls and real-time billing.

In terms of data transfer speeds, 2G offered maximum speeds of 50 Kbps with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and up to 1 Mbps with Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). It is essential to acknowledge that before the significant leap from 2G to 3G wireless networks, there were intermediary standards, namely 2.5G and 2.75G, which bridged the technological gap and paved the way for more advanced wireless technologies.

3G - Third Generation

This generation set the standards for most of the wireless technology we have come to know and love. Web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing and other Smartphone technology were introduced in the third generation. Introduced commercially in 2001, the goals set out for third generation mobile communication were to facilitate greater voice and data capacity, support a wider range of applications, and increase data transmission at a lower cost .

The 3G standard utilises a new technology called UMTS as its core network architecture - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. This network combines aspects of the 2G network with some new technology and protocols to deliver a significantly faster data rate. Based on a set of standards used for mobile devices and mobile telecommunications use services and networks that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 ( IMT-2000 ) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union. One of requirements set by IMT-2000 was that speed should be at least 200Kbps to call it as 3G service.

3G has Multimedia services support along with streaming are more popular. In 3G, Universal access and portability across different device types are made possible (Telephones, PDA's, etc.). 3G increased the efficiency of frequency spectrum by improving how audio is compressed during a call, so more simultaneous calls can happen in the same frequency range. The UN's International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard requires stationary speeds of 2Mbps and mobile speeds of 384kbps for a "true" 3G. The theoretical max speed for HSPA+ is 21.6 Mbps.

Like 2G, 3G evolved into 3.5G and 3.75G as more features were introduced in order to bring about 4G. A 3G phone cannot communicate through a 4G network , but newer generations of phones are practically always designed to be backward compatible, so a 4G phone can communicate through a 3G or even 2G network .

4G - Fourth Generation

Although 3G was a great advancement from the 2G technology, it owes its development largely to revolutionary improvements in the scope of the past 5 years. Its most noteworthy goal is to ensure proper packet routing, data deliver speed, traffic stability, safety and cost-effectiveness of voice, data, multimedia and Internet services on IP network. This is the leading-edge technology that gives the opportunity to a wide spectrum of existing and potential applications like Internet browser with the outstanding role, Immersive gaming, high definition television, video conferencing, cloud computing, etc.

The major breakthroughs behind 4G network availability results from the developments in two fields, namely MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing). Besides 4G conventional standards like WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) which has gone obsolete, LTE (Long Term Evolution) surged in popularity ignoring multiple networks having build-up. UMTS technology over Tutle's present 1800MHz frequency band is being changed with the aid of LTE, which is a series of TELSTRA acquisitions.

4G networks provide striking speed, yielding as high as 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps, respectively, whilst subway trains are in motion or stationary/walking mode. The latency issue has been a major source of network congestion, which has degraded the overall performance of the networks. However, it has been significantly reduced from 300ms to less than 100ms, eliminating earlier delays thereby improving the performance of the network. First of all, the speed improvement presented on 4G was just a little one comparing to 3G. It should be noted that 4G and 4G LTE are invented by different companies, but 4G was originally defined as unmatched to 4G LTE.

With emerging 4G there is no need to wait for so long to download new games or stream HD TV shows, since the service disruptions are over, thus making the entire experience flowy and more enjoyable for users.

Nowadays most of the new-generation mobile phones are backavecdate-compatible. They can work on a 3G network as well as on 2G networks. The general acknowledgment among carriers is that being an OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) inclusion is an essential premise for a service to be legitimately certified as a 4G technology. OFDM is a kind of digital modulation which breaks signal into a set of sub-carriers (narrowband channels) that play at different frequencies for oneself.

In order that long term network development based on LTE (Long, Term Evolution) could take place, carriers have to carry out critical fixtures for the said service. Therefore, according to the networks of GSM, UMTS, and CDMA2000 voice calls are carried out in the way of circuit switching, and with the switch to LTE the mobile system operators will have to redesign their systems of voice call serving.

Similarly, there are intermediary designations like 4.5G and 4.9G, those signify the stages of evolution of LTE-Advanced Pro and are the way of adding extra functions (such as increased MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and Device-to-Device (D2D) communication). The new activities in the field of IMT-2020 approach the future 5G standard through bridging the gap between requirements for 5G.

5G - Fifth Generation

5G, the term Fifth Generation, means the latest improvement in wireless communication technology improving the speed of transmission, lowering latency, increasing the capacity, and the capability to connect a large number of at the same time. Thus, this technology allowed people to apply more transformative applications and services that require gigantic data exchange such as autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), etc. It is the state of art cellular network technology, next arrived after 4G LTE. 5G offers a number of improvements over 4G, including:

  1. Faster speeds: 5G can ideally enable speeds as high as 20Gbps, which is far more than the 1 Gbps provided by 4G LTE.
  2. Lower latency: 5G offers a much lower latency( faster response ) than 4G, which could render it the best option for real-time communications that one often encounters in video gaming and autonomous drives.
  3. More capacity: With 5G, individual devices have the capacity never felt before through 4G which is beneficial as the size and speed increase of connected devices never stops.
  4. New features: 5G also possesses some following new specs that in 4G were not supported by them including network slicing and massive machine-type communications (mMTC). Network slicing enables operators to map separate virtual networks within a single physical network. This allows them to allocate different portions of the network to multiple tasks. For example, one part can be used for rapid mobile broadband and another, for industry applications. mMTC enables connection of a huge number of potentially millions of the low-powered devices (sensors, actuators, etc.) to the environment, or to those assets, which are being monitored and/or controlled.
Here are some of the potential benefits of 5G:
  1. Faster downloads and streaming: 5G will be able to offer impressive speeds much greater than its 4G version, which will make it possible to download big files or play high-resolution media with a minimum of delays.
  2. Improved gaming and virtual reality: 5G will involve the reduction of the latency which can be broken down into the time it takes for sending the information from the user and the acknowledgement from the destination. Through that and the increased bandwidth the Internet speed would be much faster and VR users will have the ability to enjoy a smoother and more realistic visuals.
  3. More reliable connections: 5G bring users wider bandwidth and lower latency which may not only mean the increase in number but also the movement without disconnection.
  4. New possibilities for businesses: The 5G's high-speed and low latency capacity will provide opportunities for businesses to create new applications and services which were hitherto unimaginable with earlier cellular network generations.

Nevertheless, 5G is a developing technology only, but it can profoundly impact life at home and work. It is right now in use in some of the countries too and is expected to spread the more in future.

6G - The Next Frontier in Mobile Technology

The 6G network of the following generation of mobile communication technology is projected to come after the 5G. While a finalized global standard isn't here yet, potential timelines suggest a commercial launch around 2028-2030. 6G will be a tremendous upgradation over 5G with key promises such as terahertz frequency bands for more speedy data transfer, ultra-low latency for real-time applications and more flexible networking which will allow specific needs of different service users to be met. Artificial intelligence is also projected to be integrated as well as security enhancements.

To capitalize on the benefits of 6G, mobile phones are likely to require new hardware that is capable of handling this frequency range and improved features. The emphasis could be on establishing telephones, which are optimized for special uses for 6G that are most effective such as augmented reality, virtual reality, real-time industrial applications, and ultra-fast cloud gaming. Finally, 6G could insane the mobile communications world, showing the path to our innovative future.


Cell phone network generations have transformed rapidly, 1G which powered only voice calls to a high speed data in fifth generation. 2G system was tweaked further to put in place digital signals and SMS, while 3G network was enhanced to enable basic internet accessibility. 4G has helped the internet to grow its speed by 10 fold for websites and video. 5G will provide quicker data transfer speeds than the previous two generations of technology, and this will create new opportunities for players like online games, and Internet of Things devices. On the doorstep of 6G, the next generation in connectivity, network speeds of unimaginable new rates, sub-millisecond latency for real-time apps, and bespoke network slicing for various user demands arise.