We’re steadily moving closer to the reality of 5G in everyday life in various countries across the globe. Even before the introduction of 5G, the telecommunications industry has gone through several transformations over the years.
For example, we used to rely on tall towers spread across the city to project signal transmission. Nowadays, we leverage new solutions that make a much smaller visual impact while reaching more users, such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS).
Let’s take a closer look at the history of the telecommunications industry and how we ended up where we are today.
1G – 1980s
Mobile communication first emerged to serve populations in remote areas of Sweden, primarily to facilitate contact between citizens living in dense forests and the surrounding areas.
Each 1G tower only covered a small radius and served roughly 30 users. After positive public acceptance, carriers began looking for ways to increase this capacity.
2G – 1990s
2G was the world’s first digital network based on the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). This new 2G network enabled standardized technology use between countries, making communication easier.
During the 2G era, users began using cell phones to transfer data – at first, just voice. The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was introduced during this time and is still used today in several small card machines.
A global increase in cell phones and users added density to these networks, creating new challenges and an increased need to support cell phone users.
3G – mid-2000s
The debut of the first iPhone spurred the creation of smartphones — people began using more data, downloading applications, transferring images, playing games online, etc. In other words, the cell phone became a multimedia tool, transforming the demand for mobile phone consumption.
Accessing the internet via a mobile device was fast and quickly approached the speed of a fixed modem. Similar to 2G, the popularization of 3G cell phone use created growing demands to expand signal coverage, especially indoors.
4G – 2010s
The emergence of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, also known as 4G, improved cellular connection speed, quality and stability across the board.
When 4G opened the doors for digital signal processing, the need for indoor coverage grew even more since it was difficult for digital signals to penetrate walls.
In 2020, 4G represented 50% of user connections worldwide.
5G – since 2019
Some parts of the world already have operational 5G, namely South Korea and China. This cutting-edge technology supports a new era of telecommunications: the Internet of Things.
5G works with even higher millimeter frequencies than networks past. As a result, traversing structures is even more complex and building developers and investors must devise new strategies for indoor densification.
New complementary and parallel technologies have also appeared throughout the years, such as private networks, OpenRAN and Small Cells — a solution in which users install a modem that provides cellular coverage inside via a small exclusive antenna.
Each innovation presents challenges for operators and players as they continually evolve their approach connectivity.
With the arrival of 5G, providers need to bring cell signals ever closer to users – despite the lack of space for new cell towers in urban environments.
Follow our blog to keep up with the latest news and advances in telecommunications!