1G Vs. 2G Vs. 3G Vs. 4G Vs. 5G

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

4G represents a significant technological leap from its predecessor, 3G, and owes its feasibility largely to remarkable advancements achieved in the past decade. Its primary objective is to offer users high-speed, top-notch, and extensive connectivity while simultaneously enhancing security measures and reducing the expenses associated with voice, data, multimedia, and internet services delivered over IP. This cutting-edge technology opens doors to a wide range of potential and existing applications, including improved mobile web access, IP telephony, immersive gaming experiences, high-definition mobile TV, seamless video conferencing, captivating 3D television, and efficient cloud computing solutions.

The advancements that have made 4G possible are primarily attributed to two key technologies, namely MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing). Among the notable 4G standards, WiMAX has diminished in prominence, while LTE (Long Term Evolution) has gained widespread adoption with deployments across various networks. LTE, a series of enhancements to UMTS technology, is being implemented on Telstra's existing 1800MHz frequency band.

4G networks offer impressive speeds, reaching up to 100 Mbps while in motion and up to 1 Gbps for stationary or walking scenarios. Latency has been significantly reduced from approximately 300ms to below 100ms, resulting in a marked improvement in network congestion. Initially, 4G merely provided a modest speed boost over 3G. It is important to note that 4G and 4G LTE are not identical; however, 4G LTE comes remarkably close to meeting the defined standards.

With the advent of 4G, tasks like downloading a new game or streaming HD TV shows can be accomplished seamlessly, without buffering interruptions, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable user experience.

Newer generations of mobile phones are designed with backward compatibility in mind, allowing a 4G device to function on 3G or even 2G networks. The consensus among carriers is that the inclusion of OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) is a crucial factor for a service to be legitimately marketed as 4G. OFDM is a digital modulation technique that divides a signal into multiple narrowband channels at different frequencies.

To support the transition to LTE (Long Term Evolution), significant infrastructure changes are required from service providers. This is because voice calls in GSM, UMTS, and CDMA2000 networks operate through circuit switching, and with the adoption of LTE, carriers must re-engineer their voice call networks.

Furthermore, there are intermediary designations such as 4.5G and 4.9G, representing the evolutionary stages of LTE-Advanced Pro, which incorporate additional features like increased MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and Device-to-Device (D2D) communication. These advancements pave the way towards the IMT-2020 standard and the requirements set for 5G technology.

5G - Fifth Generation

5G, or the Fifth Generation, refers to the latest advancement in wireless communication technology that offers significantly faster speeds, lower latency, increased capacity, and the ability to connect a massive number of devices simultaneously, enabling transformative applications and services such as autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), and more. It is the fifth generation of cellular network technology, succeeding 4G LTE. 5G offers a number of improvements over 4G, including:

  1. Faster speeds: 5G can theoretically offer download speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is significantly faster than 4G's maximum of 1 Gbps.
  2. Lower latency: Latency is the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. 5G has significantly lower latency than 4G, which can make it ideal for applications that require real-time communication, such as online gaming and autonomous vehicles.
  3. More capacity: 5G can support more devices on the network than 4G, which is important as the number of connected devices continues to grow.
  4. New features: 5G also supports a number of new features that were not possible with 4G, such as network slicing and massive machine-type communications (mMTC). Network slicing allows operators to create separate virtual networks within the same physical network, which can be used for different purposes, such as providing high-speed mobile broadband or supporting industrial applications. mMTC allows for the connection of millions of low-power devices, such as sensors and actuators, which can be used to monitor and control the environment or track assets.

Here are some of the potential benefits of 5G:

  1. Faster downloads and streaming: 5G can deliver ultra-fast speeds, which will allow users to download large files and stream high-definition video much faster than ever before.
  2. Improved gaming and virtual reality: 5G's low latency will make it possible for gamers to experience a more immersive experience, while virtual reality (VR) users will be able to enjoy smoother and more realistic visuals.
  3. More reliable connections: 5G's wider bandwidth and lower latency will make it possible for users to stay connected even in crowded areas or while moving quickly.
  4. New possibilities for businesses: 5G's high speeds and low latency will enable businesses to develop new applications and services that were not possible with previous generations of cellular networks.

5G is still a developing technology, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work. It is already being used in some countries, and it is expected to become more widespread in the coming years.


1G introduced the first generation of mobile communication, enabling analog voice calls. 2G brought digital technology, allowing for more efficient voice calls and basic data services. 3G expanded data capabilities, enabling internet access and multimedia applications. 4G further enhanced data speeds, supporting high-quality video streaming and mobile broadband. Finally, 5G represents the latest generation, delivering ultra-fast speeds, low latency, and massive device connectivity, paving the way for advanced technologies like IoT, AR, and autonomous vehicles.