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1G Technology – Cellular Networks

1G, or the first generation of wireless mobile communication, heralded a new era in the early 1980s, utilizing analog signals primarily for voice transmission. Initially introduced in the US, 1G was exclusively tailored for voice communication. Key features of 1G communication include its reliance on analog signals for data transmission.

  • Speeds up to 2.4 kbps
  • Poor voice quality
  • Large phones with limited battery life
  • No data security

2G Technology – Cellular Networks

The inception of 2G marked a significant leap in mobile telecommunications, introducing digital signals for the first time. Originating in Finland in 1991, it relied on GSM technology, revolutionizing communication. Key features of 2G included its digital framework and the widespread adoption of GSM, laying the foundation for the modern mobile landscape.

  • Data speeds up to 64 kbps
  • Text and multimedia messaging possible
  • Better quality than 1G

With the advent of GPRS technology, users gained access to web browsing, email services, and swift upload/download capabilities. 2G, coupled with GPRS, is commonly dubbed as 2.5G, representing a notable advancement towards the subsequent mobile generation.

3G Technology – Cellular Networks

The dawn of the new millennium marked the inception of the third generation (3G) of mobile telephony, heralding significant advancements over its predecessors. Key features of this generation include:

Advantages of 3G Technology:
  1. Data speeds ranging from 144 kbps to 2 Mbps, enabling high-speed web browsing.
  2. Capable of running web-based applications such as video conferencing and multimedia emails.
  3. Facilitates fast and convenient transfer of audio and video files.
  4. Supports 3D gaming experiences.
Disadvantages of 3G Technology:
  1. Expensive mobile phones required to access the network.
  2. High infrastructure costs including licensing fees and the installation of mobile towers.
  3. Trained personnel necessary for the setup and maintenance of infrastructure.

The 3.5G era brought together diverse mobile telephony and data technologies, laying the groundwork for the evolution into the next generation of mobile communication.

4G Technology – Cellular Networks

Continuing the tradition of launching a new mobile generation every decade, the fourth generation (4G) of mobile communication emerged in 2011. Its primary features include

  • Speeds of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps
  • Mobile web access
  • High definition mobile TV
  • Cloud computing
  • IP telephony

Technologies of 4G

  • LTE
  • HSPA

While earlier technologies primarily focused on voice transfers, 4G technologies excel in data transfer efficiency. This has led to voice calls being transmitted as data packets, known as VoLTE (Voice over LTE), resulting in faster and more efficient data usage. Reliance Jio adopts this technology, while other networks resort to 3G for voice communication.

Advantages of VOLTE
  • Efficient use of spectrum
  • Better voice clarity
  • Less battery usage
  • Simultaneous use of data and voice calls

But we need compatible smartphones for this.

5G Technology – Cellular Networks

The advent of 5G marks a significant leap in mobile network technology, promising swift and dependable communication coupled with remarkably low latency. According to a government panel report, 5G is anticipated to deliver peak data speeds ranging from 2 to 20 Gigabits per second (Gbps), a substantial advancement compared to the typical 6-7 Megabits per second (Mbps) provided by 4G networks in India, notably lagging behind the 25 Mbps standard in more developed nations. The standards governing 5G deployment are established and guided by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

5G Technology

Benefits of 5G for communication sector

  • By 2035, 5G is projected to generate a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India, as reported by a government-appointed panel.
  • According to Ericsson, a telecom gear maker, India’s revenue potential from 5G-enabled digitalization is expected to surpass $27 billion by 2026.
  • The GSMA, a global telecom industry organization, predicts that India will have approximately 70 million 5G connections by 2025.
  • 5G technology is anticipated to serve as the foundation for emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine communications.
  • It will facilitate a broader range of applications, including driverless vehicles, tele-surgery, and real-time data analytics.
  • One key application of 5G will be the implementation of sensor-embedded networks for real-time information relay across various sectors like manufacturing, consumer durables, and agriculture.
  • 5G has the potential to enhance transport infrastructure efficiency by enabling smart solutions.
  • It will facilitate vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, paving the way for the realization of driverless cars and other innovations.
  • The ultra-low latency provided by 5G technology makes it particularly suitable for such applications. Latency refers to the time taken for data to travel between its source and destination.
  • The Indian government has expressed its ambitions to deploy 5G and play a significant role in its development and growth. A high-level forum was established in 2016 to recommend a 5G strategy for India.
  • The National Digital Communications Policy of 2018 underscored the potential of 5G, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a reserve price for the auction of 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.4 GHz and 3.4-3.5 GHz bands.

Challenges of Economies of Scale

  • Spectrum Allocation Disparity: Indian operators have notably less spectrum compared to international counterparts, which deters investment due to uncertain returns.
  • Network Investment Challenges: The telecom sector in India faces issues with capital augmentation, exacerbated by a lack of available funds and burdensome debt for operators.
  • Reluctance in Auction Participation: Telecom operators are hesitant to participate in auctions due to high reserve prices (₹490 crore per MHz) and insufficient spectrum availability.
  • Regulatory Hurdles: Rapid introduction of new technologies without sufficient recouping of prior investments adds complexity, hindering progress.
  • Technical Complexity: Developing IT architectures that balance global deployment while accommodating regional technological variations poses a significant challenge.
  • Government Incentives: The government’s reluctance to forego revenue, especially amidst economic slowdowns like those induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, limits incentives for telecom investment.
  • Taxation Disincentives: High flat rates for license fees (6% of adjusted gross revenue) and spectrum usage charges (3%) discourage telecom providers from investing in innovative technologies.
  • Inefficient Auction Design: Poorly structured auctions result in valuable spectrum, including crucial 5G bands like 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz, remaining unused.

Way Forward

  • Need to align Digital India with 5G technology.
  • Incentivize design and manufacture of 5G technologies, products and solutions in India.
  • Idle spectrum must be freed up, at least till it generates significant revenues.
    Allocate funds and incentivise local technology and telecom firms to develop their internal capacities which would in turn help 5G technology succeed in the country.
  • Promote 5G start-ups that enable this design and manufacturing capabilities.
  • Promote generation of IPR backing the above designs.
  • Reward efficient use of spectrum,
  • Upgrade of narrow-band networks
  • Development of markets.
  • Manufacture of 5G chipsets, this may require massive investments.
  • Appropriate test-beds and technology platforms to enable and help Indian technical ecosystem to have an edge in 5G.

To swiftly roll out cutting-edge ultra-high broadband infrastructure, we aim for complete coverage of 10 Gbps in urban India and 1 Gbps in rural areas. Our focus lies on optimizing coverage, reliability, and scalability, ensuring seamless connectivity. Unified management policies will guarantee consistent standards across mobile networks, enhancing efficiency and user experience.


By 2023, the World Economic Forum anticipates a staggering 9.1 billion mobile subscriptions, setting the stage for a monumental shift in connectivity. With the advent of 5G technology, India is teetering on the edge of a digital revolution. This advanced wireless infrastructure represents a turning point for the nation, granting industries unparalleled access to international markets while affording consumers the advantages of scale economics. The advent of 5G holds the potential for enhanced service delivery, faster access to resources, and a broader embrace of digital amenities.

Read also: Voice sample and Voice testing

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