Difference Between 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G (With Comparison Charts)

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A new generation of cellular standards has appeared approximately every tenth year since 1G systems were introduced in 1979 and the early to mid-1980s. Each generation is characterized by new frequency bands, higher data rates and non-backward-compatible transmission technology.

1G (First Generation Technology)

1G refers to the first generation of wireless cellular technology. These are the analog telecommunications standards that were introduced in the 1980s and continued until being replaced by 2G digital communications. 1G is an analog technology and phones generally had poor battery life and voice quality was large without much security, and would sometimes experience dropped calls. Usually, the main difference between the two mobile cellular systems (1G and 2G) is that the radio signals used by 1G networks are analog, while 2G networks are digital.

Features Of 1G That You Need To Know

  • 1 G uses analog signals for communication.
  • For accessing, FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) is the main channelization protocol in 1G.
  • 1G was built upon the standards of MTS, AMTS and IMTS.
  • Switching type used in 1G is circuit switching.
  • 1G provides voice communication service but no data communication.
  • 1G provides the first wireless communication service.
  • 1G is unable to provide internet service.
  • The disadvantages of 1G are limited channel capacity, the large size of the phones, low quality of voice and low battery life.

2G (Second Generation Cellular Network)

2G (second generation cellular network) were commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja in 1991. The main motive of this generation was to provide secure and reliable communication channel.  In this regard, the technology implemented the concept of CDMA and GSM. 2G technologies enabled the various networks to provide the services such as text messages, picture messages and MMS (multimedia messages). All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing the transfer of data in such a way that only the intended receiver can receive and read it.

The maximum speed of 2G with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is 50Kbps or 1 Mbps with enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). Three primary benefits of 2G over its predecessors were that:

  • Phone conversations were digitally encrypted.
  • Data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages.
  • Significantly more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum enabling more users per frequency band.

Features Of 2G That You Need To Know

  • 2G uses the digital signal for communication.
  • The main function of 2G technology is the transmission of information via voice signals.
  • For accessing, TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) are the main channelization protocol in 2G.
  • 2G was built upon the standards of GSM.
  • 2G technology offers a low level of security as compared to 3G technology because 3G networks permit validation measures when communicating with other devices.
  • The switching type used in 2G is circuit switching and packet switching.
  • 2G provide voice and data communication service, but it does not allow complex data communication like video.
  • 2G is digitalized version of 1G.
  • 2G technology uses a broad range of frequencies in both upper and lower bands, under which the transmission depends on conditions such as weather.
  • 2G provide narrow band internet service.
  • The disadvantage of 2G is the slow rate of data transmission and low network ranges.
  • The downloading and uploading speeds available in 2G technologies are up to 236kbps.

Also Read: Differences Between Connection-Oriented And Connection-less Services In Telecommunication

Difference Between 1G And 2G In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON 1G 2G
Type Of Signal 1 G uses analog signals for communication.   2G uses the digital signal for communication.  
Channelization Protocol For accessing, FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) is the main channelization protocol in 1G.   For accessing, TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) are the main channelization protocol in 2G.  
Standards 1G was built upon the standards of MTS, AMTS and IMTS.   2G was built upon the standards of GSM.  
Type Of switching Used Switching type used in 1G is circuit switching.   Switching type used in 1G is circuit switching.  
Internet Service 1G is unable to provide internet service.   2G provide narrow band internet service.  
Voice And Data Communication 1G provides voice communication service but no data communication.   2G provide voice and data communication service, but it does not allow complex data communication like video.  
Drawbacks The disadvantages of 1G are limited channel capacity, the large size of the phones, low quality of voice and low battery life.   The disadvantage of 2G is the slow rate of data transmission and low network ranges.  

3G (Third Generation Technology)

3G is the third generation of cellular-phone network technology, capable of fast rates of data transmission that support e-mail communications, high-speed internet access, video streaming etc. The first commercial 3G networks were introduced in 2012, and since its introduction, the 3G standard is perhaps the well known because of a massive expansion of the mobile communications market post-2G and advances of the consumer mobile phone. An especially notable development during this time is the smartphone (for example, the iPhone and the Android family), combining the abilities of a PDA with a mobile phone, leading to widespread demand for mobile internet connectivity.

3G has also introduced the term “mobile broadband’’ because its speed and capabilities make it a viable alternative for internet browsing and USB modems connecting to 3G networks are increasingly  becoming common.

Features Of 3G That You Need To Know

  • The main function of 3G technology is data transfer via video conferencing, MMS etc.
  • The first commercial 3G networks were introduced in 2012.
  • Features like mobile TV, video transfers and GPS systems are the additional features of 3G technology that are not available with 1G and 2G technologies.
  • The drawback of 3G is that it is simply not available in certain regions.
  • The downloading and uploading speeds are up to 21 Mbps and 5.7 Mbps respectively.
  • The speed of transmission is very fast when compared to 2G.
  • 3G technology offers a high level of security as compared to 2G technology because 3G networks permit validation measures when communicating with other devices.
  • 3G uses packet switching for data transmission.
  • Handoff management is done vertically in 3G.
  • The frequency range of 3G technology is from 1.8GHz to 2.5 GHz.
  • There is turbo codes which are used for error correction in 3G technology.

Also Read: Difference Between LAN, WAN And MAN

Difference Between 2G And 3G Technology In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON 2G 3G
Main Function The main function of 2G technology is the transmission of information via voice signals.   The main function of 3G technology is data transfer via video conferencing, MMS etc.  
Additional Features Features like mobile TV, video transfers and GPS system are not available with 1G and 2G technologies.   Features like mobile TV, video transfers and GPS systems are the additional features of 3G technology that are not available with 1G and 2G technologies.  
Downloading And Uploading Speeds The downloading and uploading speeds available in 2G technologies are up to 236kbps.   The downloading and uploading speeds are up to 21 Mbps and 5.7 Mbps respectively.  
Security 2G technology offers a low level of security as compared to 3G technology because 3G networks permit validation measures when communicating with other devices.   3G technology offers a high level of security as compared to 2G technology because 3G networks permit validation measures when communicating with other devices.  
Turbo Codes There is no turbo codes which are used for error correction in 2G technology.   There is turbo codes which are used for error correction in 3G technology.  
Switching Type The switching type used in 2G is circuit switching and packet switching.   3G uses packet switching for data transmission.  
Downloading & Uploading Speeds The downloading and uploading speeds available in 2G technologies are up to 236kbps.   The downloading and uploading speeds are up to 21 Mbps and 5.7 Mbps respectively.  
Transmission Speed The Speed Of Transmission is very low when compared to 3G. The speed of transmission is very fast when compared to 2G.  
Drawback The disadvantage of 2G is the slow rate of data transmission and low network ranges.   The drawback of 3G is that it is simply not available in certain regions.  

4G (Fourth Generation Technology)

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone communications standards. It is a successor of the 3G and provides ultra-broadband internet access for mobile devices. The high data transfer rates make 4G networks suitable for use in USB wireless modems for laptops and even home internet access.  Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and 3D television.

The first-released Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard was commercially deployed in Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden in 2009 and since been deployed throughout most parts of the world. It has, however, been debated whether first-released versions should be considered 4G LTE.

 Features Of 4G You Need To Know

  • The maximum upload rate of 4G technology is 500 Mbps.
  • For accessing, OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) and FDE (Frequency-Domain Equalization are the main channelization protocol in 4G.
  • The maximum download rate of 4G technology is 1Gbps.
  • When it comes to data transmission, 4G uses packet switching technique as well as message switching technique.
  • When it comes to data bandwidth 4G offers 1Gbps maximum data bandwidth.
  • The frequency range of 4G technology is from 2GHz to 8GHz.
  • 4G technology uses concatenated codes for error correction.
  • Handoff management is done both vertically and horizontally.

Also Read: Difference Between Wi-Fi And Wi-MAX

Difference Between 3G And 4G Technologies In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON 3G 4G
Uploading Speed The maximum uploading speeds are up to 5.7 Mbps.   The maximum upload rate of 4G technology is 500 Mbps.  
Channelization Protocol   For accessing, OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) and FDE (Frequency-Domain Equalization are the main channelization protocol in 4G.  
Download Rate The downloading speeds of 3G are up to 21 Mbps. The maximum download rate of 4G technology is 1Gbps.  
Error Correction There is turbo codes which are used for error correction in 3G technology.   4G technology uses concatenated codes for error correction.  
Frequency Range The frequency range of 3G technology is from 1.8GHz to 2.5 GHz.   The frequency range of 4G technology is from 2GHz to 8GHz.  
Handoff Management Handoff management is done vertically in 3G.   Handoff management is done both vertically and horizontally.  
Data Transmission 3G uses packet switching for data transmission.   When it comes to data transmission, 4G uses packet switching technique as well as message switching technique.  
Data Bandwidth 3G offers 500Mbps maximum data bandwidth. When it comes to data bandwidth 4G offers 1Gbps maximum data bandwidth.  
Speed Of Transmission The speed of transmission is very low when compared to 4G.   The speed of transmission is very fast when compared to 3G.  

5G (Fifth Generation Technology)

5G technology is the fifth generation wireless technology which is still in its development phase and is expected to be commercialized in the upcoming years and is expected to be faster than the existing technologies. 5G is an improvement of 4G and it is expected to provide significantly faster data rates, higher connection density, and much lower latency, among other improvements. Other 5G plans include device-to-device communication, better battery consumption and improved overall wireless coverage.

5G will have low battery consumption, up to 10-year battery life for low power IoT devices. Also, Security of 5G is expected to be high. The 5G networks will use the security standards SE, HSM, OTA and KMS to enhance security of data. According to Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, Commercial introduction of 5G technology for business and consumer demands is before the end of the year 2020.

What You Need To Know About 5G

  • 5G technology is the fifth generation wireless technology which is still in its development phase and is expected to be commercialized in the upcoming years and is expected to be faster than the existing technologies.
  • 5G is expected to have a better coverage area and high data rate at the edge of the cell.
  • 5G will have low battery consumption, up to 10-year battery life for low power IoT devices.
  • Availability of multiple data transfer rate.
  • 5G is expected to provide high resolution and have 1000x bandwidth per unit area.
  • Security of 5G is expected to be high. The 5G networks will use the security standards SE, HSM, OTA and KMS to enhance security of data.
  • 5G is expected to have very fast speeds. Theoretically data rates can hit up to 20Gbps.
  • Energy efficiency and spectral efficiency are good.
  • 5G will increase the number of devices connected from 10 to 100x which is calculated in an average of 50,000 million devices simultaneously.
  •  5G is expected to have latency at 4 milliseconds in ideal circumstances and at 1 millisecond latency for Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC). Latency is the time it takes to get information from origin to destination (connect to networks). This will enhance a noticeable improvement in communication.
  • 5G is expected to have a quick response as compared to 4G technology.
  • Many of the current devices would not be competent to 5G technology.
  • 5G technology is anticipated to be utilized widely for applications such as smart logistics, driverless cars and other such smart applications which demand high-speed internet.

Also Read: SDMA Vs TDMA Vs FDMA Vs CDMA

Difference Between 4G And 5G Technology In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON 4G 5G
Connection Density Supports less devices per unit area when compared to 5G. 5G is expected to support many more connected devices than 4G. The standard states that 5G network map should be able to support 1 million connected devices per square kilometer.
Speed Has low speed when compared to 5G. Greater speed, enough to download a full-length HD movie in few seconds.
Application Application Is still limited to internet access. 5G technology is anticipated to be utilized widely for applications such as smart logistics, driverless cars and other such smart applications which demand high-speed internet.  
Coverage 4G has a limited coverage area. 5G is expected to have a better coverage area and high data rate at the edge of the cell.  
Multiple Data Transfer Rate No multiple data transfer rate.   Availability of multiple data transfer rate.