Mobile Networks

Evolution of Mobile Networks

  • Mobile phones communicate through ground-based cellular networks. Cellular networks are divided into ‘communication cells’ with which our mobile phones and mobile devices communicate.
  • Mobile communication involves transmitting voice or data using wireless radio transmission.
  • The first mobile systems were based on analogue transmission called as 1G. 
  • The second-generation mobile systems were based on digital transmission.
  • Initially only voice was carried over the network.
  • The commonly used standards for voice communication were GSM and CDMA.
  • These days, most mobile communications use Long Term Evolution communication– or LTE which allows us to communicate with voice and data simultaneously over the same network. 
  • The rules for carrying voice or data in a network are defined under the standards for mobile network communications often seen as 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.


  • Mobile phones began with 1G technology in the 1980s.
  • 1G is analog technology that supported only voice communications.
  • The maximum speed is 2.4 Kbps.


  • First launched in 1991.
  • For the 1st time radio signals became digital rather than analog.
  • 2G phones are used for data also along with voice. 
  • Thus, 2G telephone introduced call and text encryption, SMS, picture messages, and MMS.
  • Maximum speed under 2G networks with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was 50 kilobits per second.
  • With Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) the speed went up to 1mbps


  • Launched in 2000
  • Bridge between 2G and 3G.
  • It marks the coming of data transmission besides voice communication.
  • General Packet Radio Service enabled mobile devices to send and receive e-mails and pictures.
  • GPRS used EDGE and GSM standards for both voice and data transmission.
  • GPRS had operating speeds of up to 115kbit/s.
  • It increased to a maximum of 384kbit/s by using EDGE.


  • The introduction of 3G networks in 1998 ushered in faster data-transmission speeds.
  • Maximum speed of 3G is estimated to be around 2 Mbps for non-moving devices and 384 Kbps in moving vehicles. 
  • Further a 3G phone cannot communicate through a 4G network, but a 4G phone can communicate through a 3G or even 2G networks.
  • Under both 2G to 3G technologies, data and voice transmission over the different networks using GSM or CDMA technology.


  • 4G uses LTE which allows us to communicate with voice and data simultaneously over the same network.
  • Applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television, and cloud computing.
  • The max speed of a 4G network when the device is moving is 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps for low mobility communication like when stationary or walking.
FrequencyAnalog signal  (30 Khz)1.8GHz (digital)1.6-2.0 GHz2-8 GHz
Data rate2kbps64kbps144kbps-2Mbps100Mbps-lGbps
CharacteristicFirst wireless communicationDigitalDigital broadband, increased speedHigh speed, all IP
TechnologyAnalog cellularDigital cellular (GSM)CDMA, UMTS, EDGELTE, WiFi

5G Technology

  • 5G is the next generation cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra-low latency (Latency is gap time or transmission time for a packet of data).
  • The Steering Committee constituted for identifying the 5G deployment roadmap for India recently submitted report titled ‘Making India 5G Ready’. As per government panel report with 5G data speed would be 2-20 Gbps.

Features of 5G

  • High datarates (1Gbps for hotspots, 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload for wide-area coverage)
  • Massive connectivity (1million connections per square kilometre)
  • Ultra-low latency (1milli second)
  • High reliability (99.999% for mission critical ‘ultra-reliable’ communications).
  • Mobility at high speeds (up to 500km/hr i.e., high-speed trains).

Applications in India

  • Will enhance infrastructure efficiencies like ‘vehicle platooning’. Platooning can double vehicle density in roads promoting efficient and safer use of the limited road infrastructure.
  • In manufacturing, 5G will enable use of robotics for precision manufacturing.
  • 5G can also enable better logistics to track goods from raw materials to product delivery.
  • In agriculture, 5G can enable improvement in the entire value-chain, from precision farming, smart irrigation, improved soil and crop monitoring to livestock management.
  • In the energy sector, ‘smart grids’ and ‘smart metering’ can be efficiently supported enabling growth of alternate energy technologies.
  • In healthcare, 5G can enable more effective tele-medicine delivery, tele-control of surgical robotics and wireless monitoring of vital statistics.
  • 5G will be used in in key government projects such as smart cities and Digital India.

5G- Millimeter Wave band

5G technology

  • Fifth generation (5G) of long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks is the most recent update.
  • It’s a single platform with much greater capacity, lower latency, quicker data delivery rates, and better spectrum utilisation than earlier mobile services.

5G spectrum

5G primarily operates in three bands, namely the low, mid, and high-frequency spectrums, each of which has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Low band spectrum

  • It has a lot of potential in terms of coverage and internet and data transfer speed; however, the maximum speed is just 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
  • The low band spectrum may not be ideal for specialised requirements of the business; thus, Telcos may utilise and deploy it for commercial cell phone customers who may not have need for extremely high-speed internet.

Mid-band spectrum

  • It has faster speeds than the low band, however it has restrictions in terms of coverage area and signal penetration.
  • This band might be utilised by companies and specialised production units to create captive networks that can be tailored to their specific demands.

High-band spectrum

  • It has the fastest speed of the three bands, but its coverage and signal penetration intensity are severely restricted.
  • Internet speeds in the 5G high-band spectrum have been tested to reach 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), although the greatest internet data speed in 4G has been reported at 1 Gbps in most circumstances.

Millimetre (mm) Wave Band

  • The millimetre wave band, or mmWave, is a portion of the radio frequency spectrum that spans 24 to 100 GHz.
  • As the name implies, this spectrum has a short wavelength and is more likely to give higher speeds and shorter latencies.
  • Since a result, data transport becomes more efficient and smoother, as existing networks are optimised for lower frequency bandwidths.

Significance of this mm band

  • Lower frequency bands may be used to deliver 5G services.
  • They can reach longer distances and have been demonstrated to perform well even in congested metropolitan areas.
  • However, when it comes to data rates, these bands fall short of the maximum capacity required for a real 5G experience.
  • So, mmWave is that key component in the 5G jigsaw puzzle for mobile service providers.

Indigenous 5G

Currently, Indian contribution is design ownership of telecom products is very limited and India has been significant importer of global products. TSDSI has been established to enable India industry to take lead in International standardization activities.  

LMLC Technology

TSDSI in collaboration of IITs have been successful in getting the Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) use case accepted by ITU as one of the 5G requirements for rural areas.


  • Increases the distance between two base stations to 6 km against 1.7 km by other technology. This technology will be beneficial for rural India and other developing countries.
  • The base stations can be placed at Gram Panchayats and connectivity can be provided to neighboring villages and farms.
  • Reduction of Capex cost.
  • Increase in speed of internet access in rural areas.
  • These rural towers have to be located where BharatNet fiber ends in 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats. From these towers, neighboring villages numbering 3.5 lakhs have to be provided wireless coverage.
  • This is for the first time a global standard is emerging from India at ITU.


IIT Madras along with other institutions has developed this standard as a variation to 3GPP standards for enhanced rural connectivity. This technology is also called 5Gi technology.


  • Enhanced coverage in rural areas
  • Reduced capex costs.
  • This standard, however, has not been adopted by ITU and thus not globally harmonised
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