Evolution of Wireless Generations

Tech Talk : Wireless NetworkThe “G” in wireless networks refers to the “Generation” of the underlying wireless network technology. Technically, generations are defined as follows.

1G networks (NMT, C-Nets, AMPS, TACS) are considered to be the first analog cellular systems, which started early 1980s. There were radio telephone systems even before that. 1G networks were conceived and designed purely for voice calls with almost no consideration of data services(with the possible exception of built-in modems in some headsets).

2G networks (GSM, CDMAOne, D-AMPS) are the first digital cellular systems launched early 1990s, offering improved sound quality, better security and higher total capacity. GSM supports circuit-switched data (CSD), allowing users to place dial-up data calls digitally, so that the network’s switching station receives actual ones and zeroes rather than the screech of an analog modem.

2.5G networks (GPRS, CDMA2000 1x) are the enhanced versions of 2G networks with theoretical data rates up to about 144kbit/s. GPRS offered the first always-on data service.

3G networks (UMTS FDD and TDD, CDMA2000 1x EVDO, CDMA2000 3x, TD-SCDMA, Arib WCDMA, EDGE, IMT-2000 DECT) are newer cellular networks that have data rates of 384kbit/s and more.The UN’s International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard requires stationary speeds of 2Mbps and mobile speeds of 384kbps for a “true” 3G.

4G technology refers to the fourth generation of mobile phone communication standards. LTE and WiMAX are marketed as parts of this generation, even though they fall short of the actual standard.

The table below explaing all the generations of wireless networks in greater details

Gen Design Implement Speed Std Multiplex Core Network Feature
1G 1970 1984 1 kbps NMT, AMPS, TACS FDMA PSTN 1G is for analog celluar phones serving only voice signals.
2G 1980 1991 9.6/14.4 kbps TDMA, CDMA, GSM, PDC TDMA, CDMA PSTN 2G capabilities are achieved by allowing multiple users on a single channel via multiplexing. 2G enabled mobile phones can be used for data along with voice communication.
2.5G 1985 1999 384 kbps GPRS, CDMA2000 1x TDMA, CDMA PSTN, Packet Network Access to roaming across single type of digital wireless networks and across to 1G.
3G 1999 2002 3.1 Mbps (peak)
CDMA 2000 (1XRTT, EVDO), UMTS, EDGE, WCDMA CDMA Packet Network 3G provides excellent internet browsing speeds. Opens the door to a whole bag of opportunities with video calling, video streaming and more. With 3G, it is universally accessible and portable across different device types.
3.5G 1999 2003 14.4 Mbps (peak)
1-3 Mbps
HSPA CDMA Packet Network 3.5G supports even higher speed and enhances higher data needs.
4G 2000 2010 100-300 Mbps (peak)
3-5 Mbps
WiMax CDMA Internet Speeds for 4G are increased to lighting fast in order to keep up with data access demand used by various service. It also supports HD video streaming.


Term Definition
APMS Advanced Mobile Phone Service
CDMA Code Division Multiple Access
TDMA Time Division Multiple Access
GSM Global System forMobile Communication
PDC Personal Digital Celluar
W-CDMA Wide-band Code Division Multiple Access
CDMS-2000 Based on Interim Standard-95 CDMA standard
TD-SCDMA Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access
Multiplexing Multiplexing (sometimes contracted to muxing) is a method by which multiple analog message signals or digital data streams are combined into one signal over a shared medium.

Evolution Of G