The Evolution of Mobile Networks – a Discussion

Think back to the first phone that you had…was it a flip phone? Blackberry with a sliding keyboard or maybe you were lucky and your first one had a nice touch screen on it? I just want to take a minute to discuss many of the changes to the smart communication channels that I have noticed over the years. From the 2G networks of the 90s all the way to the 5G networks of the 2020s and beyond (including some of the things that I have heard about 6G which should be arriving c. 2030). This Wikipedia Article talks about the different currently existing mobile phone generations and gives a good recap of everything I am going to talk about, and this video from Brightside on YouTube gives great predictions for the future with 6G.

Early Networks

Starting all the way back in the 1980s 1G cellular networks were used as ways of finally allowing phones to travel. Prior to that there was not such thing as cellphones. This gave birth to the age that exists now. Its signals were analog versus the ones from 2G networks that came about in the early 1990s. Texting also starting to come into play with later 2G networks as flip phones and early full keyboard phones began to emerge within the decade and texting originally consisted of what was called T9 (Texting on 9 Keys) which is the kind of thing done with flip phones (we all have probably experienced that…), until the full keyboard phones changed that. There were extraordinarily little in the way of applications with phones really only serving base functionality.

Middle Networks

3G came into being in 1998 as the world of texting began to explode. This was the first network that also allowed for internet connection and kilobyte download speeds as the internet was now available on many devices. This is the age of the Pom Pilot (and also the age where we would be scared to accidentally hit the browser button on our flip phones out of fear for the massive data costs) where touch screens were beginning to come more and more into style and physical keyboards were having their heyday. 4G then arrived in 2008 and it completely changed the game.

The 4th Generation of mobile networks now allowed for megabyte download speeds, and with those larger data caps from cell providers and of course now the sending of picture and video messages was taking off. During this era too there was a growth in usage of social media on phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so many more also emerged on the mobile scene during this generation. In 2013 4G-LTE was introduced and with it even faster download speeds (10s of megabytes per second) and with that there would come and increase in the usage of streaming services and video viewing through mobile devices. Even though 4G is the most recently completed generation of technology, most of the products that we are still using in mid-2020 have only a 4G modem in them, and that is what brings us to the current generation of technology and the future!

Current Network and Future Network Predictions

5G, which emerged in late 2018 and is set for mass worldwide adoption by 2021 is the current generation of technology. The big thing with 5G is now that streaming has taken off and how smartphones have now become the norm, networks are going to be needed with faster speeds in order to keep up with all of the downloading and uploading that will be done with them. 5G allows now for us to use Gigabyte download speeds, which are 1000x faster than the previous 4G megabyte networks. Buffering and video loading will be a thing of the past, as average download speeds in 2010 were only around 2-5mb/second and now they will be around 2-5gb/second when on wireless connection. 5G is coming, (and no it is not a cause of the Coronavirus) and it will be an exciting world to be in when all of our devices will have the ability to properly connect to the network and get its full potential (as I predict around 2023-2025).

Looking towards the future, the video linked here (as it was also above), is a video from the YouTube channel called Brightspace, posted in February 2020, where they are talking about what the future 6G network (set for a 2030 release) will probably look like, and what cellphones of the NEXT decade will look like. Terabyte download speeds of 2-5tb/second on wireless (equal to downloading 250, 2 hour long 4k movies in 2 seconds) will theoretically be possible (since it is was the natural progression of things will be looking like), and that is some amazing stuff. Go and check it out!

Thank you for the read, and if I can leave you thinking just a little bit more about how far we have come, let me know in the comments of this post, what was your first cellphone and what is your current one? How has your usage of the cellphone you have now changed over the years as you went from a cell to a smartphone and finally how excited are you for what the future is bringing? I am super excited! Check out the video I linked, it will really get you thinking!

Social Media Posts

Facebook: The Evolution of Mobile Networks is quite an interesting and thought provoking topic. I know that it is something that I think about quite a lot, check out my blog post linked below that covers everything from the 1G networks of the 1980s all the way to the 6G network of the 2030s! https://bit.ly/2N0aize

Twitter: The Evolution of Mobile Networks, check out my #Wordpress blog post that discusses the change in mobile networks from the 1G networks of the 1980s all the way to the networks of today and beyond! https://bit.ly/2N0aize

Resources:

Here’s your Smartphone in 2030 [Video file]. (2020, February 27). Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N8D_B8TsJA

List of mobile phone generations. (2020, May 27). Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_phone_generations

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