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5G – The Race to a Highly Connected, Fast Future

Posted by Harish Sathisan on Sep 25, 2018 3:00:00 PM

This blog aims to look at the previous generation of mobile connectivity technology to help understand the evolution of mobile technology, as well as to introduce the immense power that will be unleashed in terms of opportunities in the market with the advent of 5G. I will also present the immense device refresh opportunities that exist in the market today.

Mobile Technology: A Look Back

Mobile Technology’s First Generation

1G technology was the foundation of mobile voice communications; its introduction in the early to mid-‘80s marked the beginning of the mobile revolution. At the time, it was limited to voice transmission only and was based on a technology known as AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Systems). AMPS used Frequency Decision Multiple Access (FDMA) with a channel capacity of 30KHz. 1G technology allowed for the following:

  • Voice calls in one country
  • Use of analog signals, which meant poor everything:
  • Poor voice quality
  • Poor battery life
  • Large phones
  • Poor handoff
  • Poor security – anyone could eavesdrop on your call
  • Speed at 2.4Kbps

Second-Generation Cellular Technology

The late 80's and early 90's saw continued advancements in cellular technology. In 1991, 2G cellular networks were commercially launched based on the new GSM (Global System for Mobility) technology standard. Like any new technology introduced, GSMs main focus was to outperform and resolve the issues of its predecessor. It was based on digital signals and provided services such as text and photo messages. Data transfer rates were KBps (kilobytes per second) which meant delays in image loading. Although the speed was slow, this was an option that had never been available so the expanded capability was significant. Along with it came the following features:

  • Digital signals
  • SMS (Short Messaging Service), a.k.a. “text” messaging and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), allowing picture/video messages
  • Speed 64Kbps

2.5G: 2001-2003

There also was 2.5G which used packet-switched and circuit-switched domains to provide faster rates. 2.5G led to the advent of GPRS, CDMA and EDGE technology protocols. These are characterized by the following capabilities:

  • Make phone calls
  • Send and receive emails (for the first time on your phone)
  • Browse the Internet
  • Camera availability
  • Downloads of MP3 songs
  • Speeds up to 144Kbps

3G – Third-Generation Cellular: 2004-2010

Originally launched in 2000, 3G is based on the GSM standard. 3G uses wide band technology to enhance voice clarity, improve transmission of text, video, and multimedia at data rates up to two (2) megabits per second (Mbps). The wider band offers a consistent set of services to mobile computer and phone users regardless of where they are in the world. Some features of 3G include:

  • Smartphones
  • Send emails with attachments
  • Video conferencing and/or gaming

4G: 2010-Present

4G is the technology behind most cell phone used today. Features of 4G include: 

  • Provide 10Mbps - 1Gbps
  • Video streaming
  • Highly secure
  • Low cost per bit
  • Streams HDTV content
  • MMS

The Next Wave of Opportunities: Now-2020

Consumer mobility features and options have improved at faster rates than those for commercial uses due to competition among handset makers. The refresh cycle for services such as phones, tablets, LTE-enabled laptops is anywhere from 12-36 months. Businesses are evaluating their network service needs at five to ten years out.

In the U.S., network operators are dictating the change. AT&T shut down its 2G network in 2017 and Verizon has announced they will decommission their 3G network at the end of 2019. Additionally, 3G devices will no longer be activated on Verizon’s network after December 2018. The moves are forcing users to newer, more capable devices to the minimum 4G standard; many consumers are unaware of this coming change. 

According to market estimates, there are approximately 46 million devices on older networks that will need to be replaced as network operators sunset older technologies. This represents a huge opportunity for refreshing devices and new carrier activations. At Tech Data, we represent all four major network carriers. By representing all of the top technology brands and service providers, we can effectively help our channel partners prepare their customers for the coming change.

5G – The Future of Mobile Technology #NextGenTech #5G

5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering significantly faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices. 5G connectivity will offer average download at or around 1GBps and will drive a significant increase in the use of next generation technology such as Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing as well as Internet of Things. 5G development is currently underway and is expected to launch globally around 2020 and nearly all major carriers have announced dates for rolling out 5G among select cites.

5G Features:

  • Up to 10Gbps: 20x faster than 4G (peak); 10x faster than 4G (average)

Opportunities Possible With 5G:

  • Wireless high speed Internet for home and office: Imagine not needing an internet service provider for your home or office, but surfing the internet via 5G.

  • Remote surgery (low latency is a requirement)

  • Autonomous vehicles / Interconnected car systems

  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

  • Real time Analytics, streaming

  • IoT

  • Edge Computing

Tremendous opportunity exists within the channel for our customers to help their end users prepare for the network changes with device refreshes and new activations, which the #TechDataMobilitySolutions team can help with. Contact us at mobilitysolutions@techdata.com to learn more about how 5G will impact your customers’ business. It’s important to understand how mobile technology has evolved. Appreciating its impact on society today allows us to grasp the possibilities that next-generation technologies such as 5G offers #KnowItUseIt.

About the Author

Harish Sathisan leads Tech Data’s Mobility Solutions strategy for the U.S. region. He’s a technologist at heart and considers it his mission to enable customers with solutions that materially impact their business. Harish is well-versed on next-generation technologies and is focused on bringing them to the channel.

Tags: Mobility, Mobile Technology, 5G, 4G, 3G, GSM, TDMA, Cellular, Edge Technology, GPRS, Mobile Origins, Technology Generations, SMS, MMS, #NextGenTech, #TechDataMobilitySolutions, CDMA