Generations of Wireless Communication

Generations of Wireless Communication

This article deals with ‘Generations of Wireless Communication .’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

0 G

  • Aka Mobile Radio Telephone | Pre-Cellular
  • Usually mounted in cars & trucks although briefcase models were also available
  • Motorola in conjugation with Mobile Telephone System (MTS) introduced it in US in 1946

1 G

  • Analog Telecommunication standards
  • Introduced in 1980s
  • Main Use : Voice Calls.
  • Limitations : Limited capacity, not secure, background interference
  • Speed : 2 Kbps


  • Commercially launched as GSM standard in Finland
  • Use Digital Technology (Main difference between 1G & 2G is 1G was analog  and 2G was digital )
  • 2G has two technologies – TDMA (GSM) & CDMA
  • Main Uses : Voice calls, Short messages, browsing (partial) .
  • Limitations : Low network range, slow data rates .
  • Speed : 64 Kbps


  • Improvements over 2G: Clarity in Voice calls, Digital broadband, increments speed
  • Main Uses : Text and high speed internet
  • Limitations : High power consumption, Low network coverage, High cost of spectrum licence.
  • Speed : 2 Mbps

Give rise to applications not previously available

Mobile TV Telemedicine
Video on Demand Location based services


  • Benefits over 3G : Very high speeds at lower price than 3G
  • Main Uses : High speed applications, IP Telephony , Video Calling , gaming services, HD Tv, 3D TV , Wearable devices
  • Limitations : LTE supported mobiles and complicated hardware required
  • Speed : 1 Gbps


  • Ultra High Speeds
  • Main Use : Internet of Things (System will be intelligent enough to allocate resources . Eg : Driverless car which needs to take decision in fraction of seconds will be given greater  bandwidth than ordinary user), Hologram TV ,  Augmented reality
  • Limitations : Not Net Neutral, High Costs
  • It will use drones and balloons to provide internet everywhere 
  • Speed : more than 20 Gbps


  • Faster Data Speed of more than 20 Gbps
  • Ultra-low latency – Latency refers to the time it takes for one device to send a packet of data to another device. In 4G the latency rate is around 50 milliseconds but 5G will reduce that to about 1 millisecond.
  • 30  Ghz of available spectrum in comparison to below 3 Ghz for 4G.
  • As per the OECD  Committee on Digital Economic Policy, 5G technologies rollout will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and digitizing the economy.
  • Will help to  incorporate technologies such as Internet of Things & Artificial Intelligence in our lives.
  • Agriculture : 5G can enable improvement in the entire value-chain, from precision farming, smart irrigation, improved soil and crop monitoring, to livestock management.


  • 5G will not be net neutral
  • Integration of various standards – There are already multiple groups working to come up with standards around interoperability, backward compatibility with older technologies etc. Thus standardisation becomes a major challenge
  • Building Infrastructure – It is a huge task, with issues around spectrum and installing new antennas. 
  • Expensive Spectrum in India than other countries
  • Lack of skilled professionals who can  advance  5G technology
  • Reluctance of people due to Unaddressed rumours related to possible health hazards posed by 5G radiations 
  • Obstacles – Like buildings, trees and even bad weather can cause interruptions which would require more base stations to be built to ensure better connections.

2019 : Huawei Issue = Chinese company is frontrunner in 5 G Technology . But US against it as

  • US – Huawei’s founder is ex-PLA Officer & Huawei indulge in cyber espionage & leaking data to govt
  • Other Reason – US doesn’t want that monopoly of it’s tech giants like IBM, Google etc is threatened. Until now rules of game were written by US firms but Huawei is challenging it (whoever writes the rules will have inherent benefit in future)

Other information

  • South Korea has become the world’s first country to launch 5th-Generation (5G) networks.
  • Shanghai becomes World’s First City With 5G Network Coverage.
  • In India, Steering Committee, headed by AJ Paulraj has recently submitted report titled ‘Making India 5G Ready’.

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