What is 5G Network ? | 1G, 2G,3G, 4G and 5G Technology explained

What is 5G?

5G is expected to provide us speeds up to 300 Mbps. The government has announced that the auction of the sperctrum of 5G in India will be held in March 2021 and then the companies will start out installing the structure needed to deliver the 5G network to you.

What is 5G Network

Today we will are going to talk about 5G in India but before that let's just have a brief introduction of previous generations.


1G stands for 1st Generation which was Introduced in the 1980s. It was based on an Analog signal system and it featured only a voice calling service. This technology used the "Circuit Switching technique" to connect the users, which is a wired interconnection set up between the users. This circuit was made between the users before the connection was set up, the advantage of this set up was that it offered full bandwidth because the users remained connected to each other till the communication is going on. This 1G technology was the first step in wireless full-duplex(means that both the users can communicate with each other at the same time)voice communication technology but didn't offer security and encryption of calls. 


In the 1990s, a new generation of wireless mobile networks was introduced which was called 2G. 2G means 2nd generation which offered great services in comparison to its predecessor. Apart from calling, the 2G network provided us with SMS and MMS services. This technology was a shift from analog to digital signals because it used digital signals in comparison to the analog signals used by its predecessor(1G). The 2G used GSM(Global System for Mobile communications), a type of Time Division Multiple access(technology which allows many users to share the same frequency without interference) methods which is a standard set by ETSI to describe protocols for 2G. 

(a). Later on, 2.5G was introduced which introduced a new feature of internet connectivity. The 2.5G used GPRS(General Packet Radio Service) for internet connectivity which offered us a maximum speed of 40 Kbps. This 2G network type used the GMSK(Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying) transmission technique for wireless data transfer, which is a frequency shift keying(based on MSK or Minimum Shift keying, which itself is a form of continuous-phase frequency-shift keying, CPFSK) that offers efficient use of spectrum with no phase discontinuity. This technique requires less bandwidth and hence is a more efficient method. The best thing about GMSK is that it consumes very little battery hence making 2G phones more energy efficient. This type of network was noise-proof because it is frequency modulated and Amplitude is constant, which if modulated cause more noise and that's why called constant envelope modulated signal

2.5G used Packet-switching in addition to Circuit- switching to transfer data where Packet-Switching is the technique of breaking data into small packets and sending it via the best routes to achieve a good speed. The data on the other side is collected and reassembled to recreate the message. These data packets have a header that contains the information about the route, sequence, and destination, etc. which tells data about its destination and sequence into which it needs to be reassembled. 

Note: Whenever we used the Internet in the era of 2.5G, the G sign used to appear on the top of the screen indicating the GPRS.

(b). At the beginning of 2003, 2G came up with an Enhanced version of GPRS known as EDGE(Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), and this network collectively was called as 2.75G. It was launched as 2.75G which offered up to a speed of 384 kbit/s. Basically, EDGE is an enhanced version or enhanced type of GPRS which works on its software and hardware provided the EDGE-compatible transceiver units should be installed and the base station subsystem needs to be upgraded to support EDGE. Apart from that, the EDGE needs no Hardware or Software changes. EDGE or 2.75 G uses 8-Phase PSK(Phase Shift Keying) encoding technique in addition to GMSK when there is a high Carrier to Interference ratio(C/I) which means when the interference is more than permissible limits(greater than 9 decibels). In 8-PSK each of the 8 phases carries three greys coded bits of information called a Symbol, with symbol rate(or baud rate is the measure of Combination of Bits known as symbols sent per second, like EDGE can carry 3 bits in one symbol)is fixed at 271 symbols per second. The advantage of this system is that it can transfer 3 bits of data at a time which makes it faster in comparison to 2.5 G which can only transfer one bit at a time. But transferring 3 bits at a time can cause errors. 

Apart from GSM, the 2G also used CDMA(Code Division Multiple Access) methods which is a multiple access network method(in which more than two terminals/devices could connect and transmit over the same transmission medium by the use of the multiplexing technique). Qualcomm developed this method and was later adopted as an industry-standard in 1995. CDMA used a spread spectrum technique(in which a narrow signal was spread over a wide band with Noise) to reduce interference and make it more secure because it can trick anyone to think that noise is being transmitted. A specially designed receiver decoded and retrieved the information sent by the network. These methods offered lower data speeds and high errors so to tackle these problems, a new generation network was developed, which was an advancement of 2.5G and 2.75G, it was called 3G.

Here is a list of services provided by 2G:
Internet connectivity:
  • Use of digital signal as compared to analog in 1st generation. 
  • SMS and MMS services were introduced.
  • The better voice call quality

3G or the third generation network was introduced in 2001. 3G is nothing but just an advancement of 2.5G and 2.75G. 3G is based on a set of standards that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) specified by ITU(Internationa Telecommunication Unit). 

UMTS(Universal Mobile Telecommunication Systems) is the successor to GSM in the field of communication and also used QPSK keying technology. UMTS uses a wide band of CDMA called W-CDMA occupying a bandwidth of 5 MHz wide channel. Unlike EDGE, the UMTS requires new Base stations and new frequency allocation.  The new enhanced technology of 3G claimed speeds of 384Kbps.

Later on, HSPA(High-Speed Packet Access) technology was introduced to the previous network called UMTS network(3G) by 3GPP. This HSPA is an enhancement of 3G and was called 3.5 G. It had two protocols:

1.HSDPA(High-Speed Downlink Packet Access): Meant for Downloading Purpose

Released by 3GPP in 5th Release, HSDPA uses shared channel transmission(High-Speed Downlink Shared Channel or HS-DSCH), which is bi-directional and only found in the TDD(we assign different time-slots for uplink and downlink using the same frequency ( not using two frequency as in FDD but only one frequency used ) we call it as Time Division Duplex or TDD) domain of WCDMA / UMTS, where it is used to transport shared channel control information. Apart from this, 3.5 G uses multi-code transmission(which means that multiple data can be sent over a single channel), a short transmission time interval (TTI), fast link adaptation(which means that the signal matches modulation, Coding, Signal, protocol parameter to the conditions of Radio link for better performance), High order Modulation(8PSK) and fast hybrid automatic repeat request or HARQ(HARQ is the combination of automatic repeat request-ARQ and forward error correction-FEC. These are the two main error control strategies used for data communication, and when used together, they provide great flexibility to adapt to any propagation condition.)

2.HSUPA(High-Speed Uplink Packet Access): Meant for Uploading purpose

Released by 3GPP in the 6th Release, HSUPA uses almost similar technology to HSDPA providing greater Uplink speeds up to 5.7 Mbps. Apart from increased data rate, HSUPA also offered lower latency by the use of Fast Packet Scheduling. 

Generally, The combination of HSDPA and Enhanced UL is referred to as HSPA. 


In the 9th release of 3G by 3GPP, HSPA+ or Evolved HSPA was introduced which was also called 3.75 G. HSPA+ came with the 7th release from 3GPP with new functions added which are, for example, higher-order modulation 64QAM (DL) and 16QAM (UL) as well as Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), used only in the DL. The maximum channel rate DL(Downlink), using 64QAM Quadrature Amplitude Modulation Technique and 15 codes, is 21 Mbps and UL(Uplink) using 16QAM Quadrature Amplitude Modulation technique is 11 Mbps. The main part of this technology is the MIMO(Multiple Input Multiple Output) which improves the efficiency of the system. In MIMO technology, multiple receivers, and transmitter antennas are used to receive and transmit data which increase link reliability, spectral efficiency, or both.

3G provided us with the following services:
  • High-Speed Internet
  • Video Calling
  • High-Quality Voice Call

4G LTE or 3.95G is the next generation network(4th generation) set up by 3GPP in the release 8 and 9. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, it provides downlink peak rates of 300 Mbit/s, uplink peak rates of 75 Mbit/s. LTE is the up-gradation of 3G which is a fully Packet-Switched network. Unlike the previous versions, 4G completely relies on Packet Switching for the Internet and voice call services. 4G uses VOLTE(Voice Over Long Term Evolution) technique which is IP Multimedia System(IMS), which is a Packet-switched calling service which means that your voice is broken into small data packets and sent as packets via packet switching technique as done for the Internet, this VOLTE offers us a high-quality call service. 

Note: If the Network doesn't support VOLTE then still the users can call through 2G or 3G services as the internal circuitry will automatically switch to 2G or 3G accordingly.

LTE supports TDD(Time Division Duplex) and FDD(Frequency Division Duplex) modes of operation on air. Generally, FDD is used for Voice calls, TDD for packet data. LTE uses OFDM(Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex) which is a form of signal format that uses a large number of close spaced carriers that are each modulated with the low rate data stream. The close-spaced signals would normally be expected to interfere with each other, but by making the signals orthogonal to each other there is no mutual interference. The data to be transmitted is shared across all the carriers and this provides resilience against selective fading from multi-path effects. The most important inherited(from Previous Versions) technology that 4G uses is MIMO multiple receivers, and transmitter antennas are used to receive and transmit data which increases efficiency and reduces latency. The architecture of 4G has been redesigned in such a way that each part works smartly to provide you with high speed and low latency.

Indian telecom operators have received spectrum licenses to operate 4G LTE networks over BAND 5 LTE FDD (850 Mhz), BAND 3 LTE FDD (1800 Mhz)BAND 40 LTE TDD (2300 Mhz), and BAND 41 LTE TDD (2500 Mhz).

4G offered the following services:
  • High-Speed Internet connectivity.
  • High-Quality Multimedia Streaming.
  • VoIP(Voice Over IP) or Internet calling services.
  • High-Quality Calling services.
  • High-Quality video calling feature.

Fact: ITU had set the standard for 4G speeds of 1Gbps for static users and 100 Mbps for moving users, but the telecom companies were not able to provide that much speed and to market, the network as 4G instead of calling it as 3.95G or 3.9G called it as 4G LTE and assured that it is Long Term Evolution Network and they will continuously work to improve the speeds. The companies which can provide the standard speeds can only market their network as original 4G, 4G LTE is not original 4G version but a continuously improving version of the previous-gen networks approaching towards 4G.


5G(presented by 3GPP in 15th release)or the 5th generation network is the future of wireless mobile communication in India. 5G is aimed to cover all the flaws of the previous generation networks and provide the user with high-speed internet connectivity(up to Gigabits), low latency, increased bandwidth, etc. 5G uses the same technology as that of 4G but there are some major improvements made which limited the 4G network. the lower bands(1-6GHz) are more crowded so 5G relied on to use millimeter waves(mm-wave) with a frequency range of 24GHz to 100 GHz for transmission purposes. The use of high-frequency millimeter waves in 5G networks offers large data to be transmitted from one place to another at greater speeds. Due to the increase in the frequency, the size of antennas becomes smaller which is one of the biggest advantages. The reason behind the use of Millimeter-wave is that it offers large data transfer and it is the unused part of the frequency spectrum that offers less latency. Apart from pros, mm waves have some serious cons such as their inability to penetrate through objects and also it gets interrupted by objects like trees, buildings, water droplets in the atmosphere, absorption by gases present in the atmosphere, etc. So to overcome this problem 5G technology uses smart cell technology which uses multiple base stations or we can say that multiple signal repeating devices to ensure full connectivity without any drop in every corner. 5G also employs MIMO technology which supports more number(than 4G) of antennas to be installed on towers, these multiple antennas will send more signals to decrease latency. But more antennas mean more interference between the signals in an area. The interference of signals is prohibited by the towers to send data in the form of beams to particular users instead of spreading it in a large area. A smart algorithm designed for the base stations projects the signal in the form of beams to ensure that there is no wastage of energy and less interference. 5G is expected to deliver peak data rates of at least 20Gbps downlink and 10Gbps uplink per mobile base station. 5G technology uses higher rate modulation techniques(QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM, 256QAM, and for the uplink when DFT-OFDM is used, π/2-BPSK can be used). Apart from these technical features, 5G offers high connection density which means that it can serve 1 million devices per square kilometer. It has very little latency as compared to the previous generations. 5G will offer us the following features: 

  • Very High-Speed Internet
  • High-Quality Video Calling
  • High-Quality Voice Calling
  • High-Quality online media Streaming
  • The new feature that 5G added is the IoT(Internet of Things for eg. Wi-Fi Switches, Alexa operated Home lights, etc.) support which required high-speed data transfer for the quick response. IoT devices will work better with 5G.

Many countries like China, US, UK, etc. have got 5G installed and companies are continuously working to improve the network.

What do experts say about mobile technologies?

Mobile Communications Experts believe that the advancements from 1G to 2G was the first step towards digitalization as it offered us MMS and internet service, and also when we moved towards 3G, it offered us features like video calling and high-speed internet. But the advancements from 3G to 4G were not that great because they didn't add a new feature but only increased speeds and some service providers were not able to provide 4G speeds according to the standards so they called their network 4G LTE for marketing purposes. The shift from 4G to 5G is seen as a major change since it offers High connection density, improved architecture, and support for IoT because IoT is going to be the future.

When will 5G be implemented in India?

5G spectrum auction is expected to be held in March 2021 and then companies will start implementing the structure needed to provide a high speed 5G network to the users. Many companies like Jio and Airtel have tested their networks and are expected to provide 5G in major cities at the end of this year. 

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