It was only twenty years ago that cell phones, as we know them, became popular in the market.
If you remember, the first “really popular” device was the Nokia 3310. It was small, sleek, easy to carry, and a great way to communicate on the go.
When cell phones first gained popularity in the U.S., consumers did not have a thorough understanding of mobile technology.
It was the year 2000, or Y2K, and everyone was freaked out about the Internet crashing or excited about the possibility of talking with their friends on their new mobile device. There was no in-between.
When the Nokia 3310 first hit shelves, it only supported 2G networks. As of right now, most cell phone companies advertise a 5G network, with the 6G looming over the horizon.
So, what does that mean? Why all the buzz about 6G technology?
With everything that we can already do with our phones and the 5G technology, how much better can it really get?
Without understanding a little of the history that precedes 6G technology, it’s difficult to understand the changes that come with a sixth generation of mobile telecommunications.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Mobile technology started back in 1982 with the first generation of what we enjoy today. 1G technology only offered the most basic of analog voice systems and it was not available to the public.
Analogue means that the technology was not digital. The way analogue works is by processing analog signals that can take up any value within a range. An audio amplifier is a perfect example of this—it produces an output voltage that can be any value within the range of the power supply.
The main issue with 1G technology, despite how advanced it was at the time, was the fact that analogue systems cannot encrypt information, which put anything transmitted through analogue at risk. It had a lot of limitations with data, no capabilities of uploading or downloading, and was only capable of voice transmissions.
2G technology was a definite improvement on the first generation.
For one, it was digital. This meant that encryption was possible, therefore relieving some of the security risks that the first generation lacked.
The second generation also brought with it the capability to download a small amount of data into the device. Texting was also possible, as well as secure voice interactions.
And because encryption was possible with this generation, that meant that texts were digitally encrypted. This allowed users to transfer data securely so that only the intended receiver could receive and read the message. No third parties allowed.
This technology marked the beginning of the digital age with mobile technologies and, you could even say, marked the beginning of how we use phones today. After this generation, all mobile technologies became digital. No more analogues.
The third generation of mobile technology came out at the boom of the digital age. The year of 2002 was the year that Kelly Clarkson won the first American Idol and the first time that mobile technology became a part of pop-culture and, well, our lives.
3G technology, unlike its two predecessors, provided the ability to download and upload data with speeds of up to 2Mbps—pretty fast stuff. Even today, a speed of 2Mbps will allow light streaming with limited users.
This generation also provided enhanced security features, better reliability, and more bandwidth. Plus, you could always be online. It wasn’t as fast as today’s speeds, but it was still a huge deal.
The biggest feature about the fourth generation of mobile technology was Long Term Evolution (LTE) of networks.
LTE is a technology that makes your phone work really fast. LTE reduced delays with downloading, uploading, and web surfing. In fact, we still use LTE technology today and it’s a prominent part of mobile advancements.
With 4G LTE technology, the speeds went from 2Mbps (3G) to peak speeds of up to 300Mbps for downloads. Data capabilities increased and consumers could be much more mobile with their devices.
This is the generation we use today; probably the one you are most familiar with.
5G technology is the one responsible for the communications we can have today—virtually interact with anyone, anywhere in the world, with unbelievable uploading and downloading capabilities, enhanced bandwidth, and high speed Internet functionality.
Let’s just say that latency is not an issue with 5G. This generation aims to please with its high performance and improved efficiency. It also helps that this is the generation that is the most cost-efficient in its ability to scale down in data rates and power.
Moreover, the fact that 5G can support multiple devices is incredibly useful today, especially while living in a pandemic. Previous generations could not withstand multiple connected devices and provide equal speed for all. 5G can do that, on top of supporting real-time applications like self-driving cars and virtual reality.
Though 6G won’t come out until the end of this decade, techies everywhere are already drooling over its capabilities.
There are rumors that the sixth generation of mobile networks will be 100 times faster than the 5G technology. Literally, in the blink of an eye.
Right now, 5G technology can withstand the current technological demands of having multiple connected devices to a network, fast upload and download times, among many other things. However, with 6G technology, things like smart homes, self-driving cars, and household appliances will function at maximum capacity with almost zero latency issues.
We are still far away from the launch of 6G technology. In fact, experts say that we still have not seen everything that 5G technology can do.
6G technology is in its early stages and everything we know so far are still just ideas. Although, at the rate that technology advancements happen, it would surprise no one that everything said about 6G technology will become true.
Still, 5G technology has a lot to prove. Things like artificial intelligence, or robots, living among us is not a far off idea anymore and even though 5G technology will give us a taste of what it is capable of with such advancements, it will be 6G technology that will really incorporate itself into a new decade of technological upgrades.