2G, or not 2G: that is the question: Whether 'tis worthier to the mind or to suffer through 5G. Unlike poor Hamlet, I have not lost my mind but there is a lot of confusion with the various levels of 'G' that are quoted by telecommunication providers, and to confuse us all further, Huawei has announced they are researching 6G!
Australia's very early '007' service launched in 1981 and only just makes it onto the list. Call it 0G. It operated in the 500MHz band and was shut down by 1993. February 1987 saw the launch of 1G in Australia with the analogue cellular system (AMPS). It operated in the 850MHz range and was closed in 2000.
By the time 2G arrived in 1993, less than 4 per cent of the Australian population had an analogue mobile. 2G (or GSM) increased security and, after the first SMS had been sent the previous year, introduced Australians to text messages. 2G typically operated around the 900MHz range and later the 1,800MHz band. 2G also introduced data with GPRS and EDGE at theoretical maximum speeds of 0.384Mb/s. 2G was largely shut down in 2016.
3G was introduced in 2003 and saw the dawn of mobile broadband with significantly better data speeds, up to 7.2Mb/s. 3G operated in the 850MHz and 2100MHz ranges. My estimation is that 3G will be completely shut down in Australia by 2023.
4G kicked off in Australia in 2014. Why? Three reasons. Speed, speed and speed. 4G has theoretical maximum speeds up to 1,000Mb/s. To give you some idea of the workload placed on modern carriers, in one month Telstra alone connects 500 million calls, sends 50 million text messages and carries 50 petabytes of data! 4G operates across a number of frequencies from 700MHz through to 2,600MHz.
Which brings us to 5G. Recently introduced in Australia it is currently only available in ten cities. The demand for 5G is not only driven by the need for speed but the need to be connected to, well, everything. 5G will have a theoretical speed of 10,000Mb/s but, more importantly, it will have reduced latency and will allow significantly more simultaneous connections. The combination opens up a whole new world of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that will explode onto the market. 5G will initially operate in the 3,500MHz frequency range but in future years will operate up to 28,000MHz (28GHz). This is significantly higher than all of the other generations of mobile technology but radio waves are non-ionising waves and, forty-six years after Dr Martin Cooper made the first phone call from a mobile, we are still yet to see any negative health effects from radiation caused by mobiles.
My advice to people across Australia in relation to the latest mobile standards is the same as my advice to my children after an argument. Embrace!
Tell me if you are excited about the advent of the 5G network at firstname.lastname@example.org.