As the elevator industry advances towards connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT), it is important to understand the cellular network types used. The wireless cellular network has been present since the 1980’s when it first appeared as the 1G analogue network. Since then cellular technology has grown, developing to include the present data based 4G LTE and VoLTE technologies. This article discusses the differences between the current cellular technologies available today.

Cellular Network Types

1G

1G stands for first-generation and was the first iteration of wireless cellular technology. Established in the 1980’s, the 1G network introduced analogue telecommunication standards and was the first form of mobile communications. Although 1G used digital signalling to connect radio towers to the rest of the system, the voice call was purely analogue until the introduction of the 2G system, which later made 1G obsolete.

2G

In 1991 the 2G network was launched and replaced the 1G system by introducing digital encoding of voice calls. It also offered the first data services and SMS. Data speeds, however, were still extremely low and internet access was not yet possible.

In Europe many GSM-based technologies still make use of the 2G network however, this is not true elsewhere. Many countries such as Australia and New Zealand have already decommissioned their 2G networks and many others are to follow. There is a large area of debate as to whether Europe will follow the trend of decommissioning the 2G network when so many devices still rely heavily on it. More information on the changes to the 2G network can be found here.

2.5G

When 2G introduced the first data services, users quickly realised that they wanted both voice and data. Transitioning to a full data capable network was to take some time and so the 2.5G network was created as an intermediate technology. This was also known as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and allowed for packet switching which was more suited to accessing the internet.

3G

The 3G network was developed to finally meet the demand for a fully data capable service. It improves the data rate for both voice and mobile access with enhanced audio and voice streaming. Other features such as video-conference were also introduced and created a better experience on not just mobile phones, but also other GSM-based devices.

4G

The most recent development in cellular technology is 4G. Also known as 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution), this cellular network type offers better data rate and quality than the previous 3G network. The goal with 4G was to offer data rates of at least 100Mbps, however, variations in 4G deployment have led to lack of coverage in some locations and thus you will still witness 4G devices drop to 3G and 2G for certain features. This can most commonly be witnessed when making voice calls. It was only after initial deployment of 4G that it was discovered that sending voice over LTE would lead to better quality, also known as HD calling or High Definition calling. This development is known as VoLTE, or Voice over LTE.

As discussed, there are several options when it comes to telecommunication networks. 2G and 3G are still widely used methods for GSM devices and have been proven as a reliable technology. 4G offers an improvement of data speeds and sound quality; however, there is still a need to expand its coverage before it can be incorporated into all devices.

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