4G, LTE, GSM, HSPA and many more are some of the acronyms you we see next to the signal graph of our smartphones. They apparently have something to do with the network we are on, but what do they actually mean? If you don’t speak mobile network or if you think you do but want to make sure you speak it with the right accent, here is a quick round up for you.
Nowadays, the worldwide network technologies available are numerous. Whether old or new technologies are used often differs depending on location and what part of the globe you’re looking at. Some network technologies are due to be replaced, some will remain available for a long time.
As smartphones have integrated into our lives, whether we like it or not, mobile network language has become more of a norm than we may want to admit. If you don’t speak mobile network, no doubt you find yourself lost at times, but if you do, let’s face it, you might be lost all the same. So, here’s a crash course on mobile technologies :
First, let’s start with the real basics. “G” stands for generation. 1G refers to 1st generation. 2G refers to 2nd generation, and so on.
This was the first mobile communication technology and was introduced in the 1980’s. It was analog, whereas the 2G which came only a few years later was digital.
GSM (Groupe Spéciale Mobile or Global System for Mobile Communications) is to date the most widely spread technology worldwide (covering 95% of the planet). Conversations were digitally encrypted and data services for mobile became possible with this 2nd generation, allowing for SMS messages to be sent for the first time. In common language GSM is known as 2G.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is an evolution of the GSM norm to allow data transfer (check e-mails, access some internet services). GPRS is also known as 2.5 G
EDGE (Enhanced data rate for GSM Evolution) is once again an upgrade of the GSM norm that can offer up to three times the data capacity of the GPRS technology. In everyday language, this translates as 2.75 G.
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) is the first generation of mobile High Speed Internet. This norm is very close to the WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technology. It is what user’s commonly call 3G, and was introduced in 1998.
HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) is a technology that enables WCDMA operators to enhance their network and make run at broadband speed. Depending on what speed and norm your carrier operates on, and without getting into too much details, HSPA corresponds to 3G+ or H+.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) and LTE advanced, finally. LTE networks deliver very fast data speeds (up to 100Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink). It’s what in common language we call 4G.
As we see the main evolution of the various norms are based on speed more than capacity. This is why despite being within range of a 3G+ or H+ network, we might have difficulties getting on the internet via our mobile phone. This is becoming a new challenge – bandwidth saturation – which happens when high numbers of people use the same network and create an Internet traffic jam. As bandwidth saturation increases, getting access to data will become just as important as the speed that data is received. That’s where Be-Bound comes in as the missing link between network speed and bandwidth saturation. Be-Bound works across all networks to find the best wherever you go, ensuring connection continuity.
So do you think you speak mobile network now ?