Over the past 40 years, wireless mobile networks have evolved through multiple generations. The telecommunications industry’s rule of thumb is that about every 10 years a new G (generation) evolves, advancing the way in which people and connected “things” communicate with one another.
The first generation (1G) of wireless mobile networks was initially launched in the late-1970s in Japan and was later introduced to the United States in 1983. While this technology was revolutionary for the time, looking back, 1G had low sound quality, bad coverage, no roaming support, slow downloading speeds and zero security (as there was no encryption just yet.)
Then along came 2G networks, which improved sound quality, increased download speeds, encrypted calls (eliminating random people from dropping in on calls) and enabled the transfer of some data. 2G networks completely changed the way in which people transferred data, introducing text messages (SMS) and multimedia messages (MMS) as new forms of communication.
Feel old yet? This ability to text, download content, and share data resulted in a rising demand for cellphones in the 1990s.
Moving into the new millennium, 3G networks were introduced in 2001. 3G’s ability to transmit larger amounts of data at higher speeds changed the way end users viewed and used their phones. To put in perspective, on a 3G network users could browse the internet, play games and download files in seconds, whereas prior on a 2G network, a file download would take minutes. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication also began to take new life, laying the groundwork for an ecosystem of connected devices or “things.”
Needless to say, demand for faster data and increased network capabilities pushed the future of data networks forward, as 4G networks made their debut in 2009. For consumers, this sparked a new era for smartphones and hand-held mobile devices. For connected “things”, this upgrade enabled a wide range of mobile M2M applications that were not possible or economical before 2009.