04 - Wireless Industry Standards

To understand the various Industry standards, we have to take a look at the history of evolution of mobile communication.

The early evolution of mobile communication started in three countries, North America, Japan and Europe. These regions developed standards of their own, which were quite independent and different from one another, that meant a phone from Japan wouldn’t work for the networks of Europe.

1G Standard

These early standards were based on analog technologies and these are collectively known as the first generation or 1G technology. Thus, the 1G standard of Japan was NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone). In Europe there were many standards, for example, Germany and Austria had C-NEtz, Comviq was in Sweden, Nordic Mobile in Nordic countries, Radiocom in France and the UK and Ireland had TACS. In America it was AMPS by North American cellular which was developed in the 1970’s and deployed in the early 1980’s. It initially operated in 800 MHz frequency range, then in 1900 MHz range.

So that was 1G, when every region had differing technologies for mobile communication.

2G Standard

Around the 90s, digital technologies gave rise to the second generation of communication standards. The two leading 2G systems were GSM and CDMA. ETSI recommended GSM for Europe and many other countries adapted to it. With GSM the cost of mobile calling was reduced significantly and the subscriber number rose explosively. Operating range of GSM was 900MHZ. Radiolinja was the first to launch a GSM network in Finland in 1991.

With 2G, the standards truly became international, that means, similar set of rules were adapted all across the world while laying down networks and manufacturing mobile phones. Unlike the 1G were an AMPS phone was useless in Japan, GSM phones found there use across the world, hence overcoming compatibility issues.

In 1993, IBM introduced SIMON, which could have possibly been the world’s first Smartphone. With the advent of such devices, the requirement to exchange more and more information through signals became necessary. As a result to efforts in maximizing data content over radio, GPRS or 2.5G cellular systems emerged.  The standards for GPRS were originally developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Soon, a host of more improved standards followed, e.g. the Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution, the Enhanced GPRS and the IMT Single Carrier (EDGE, EGPRS and IMT-SC). Though these standards superseded the 2nd generation, they are still considered a part of it.

In development since the early 2000s, was a new generation of communication technology standards, 3G or third Generation mobile telecommunications technology. Any 3G service is required to meet the specs of the International Mobile Telecommunication-2000 (IMT-2000), standardized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).3G telecom networks are required to support a data rate of at least 200kbps in addition to various standards for reliability.  With 3G came great improvement in power conservation, mobile internet access and for the first time video calls were made possible.

3G Standard

Popular 3G standards are

·         the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) developed and maintained by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)

·         WCDMA,

·          TD-SDMA and

·         HSPA+

Succeeding 3G is the now prevailing 4th Generation. It has been able to provide ultra-broadband over mobile. Mobile Wi-Max and LTE are the first 4G standards with LTE gaining more popularity over the years. LTE (long term evolution) standards are being developed and maintained by the 3GPP. The world’s first LTE service was launched by Telia in Sweden. Looking into the future, LTE advanced is being looked upon as a 5G standard.

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