Have you noticed the acronyms 3G and 4G appearing next to your cell phone's signal? They indicate the mobile data technology used, hence the G, for generation, at the end of each number – 3G is the third generation of data technology.
In the first-generation mobile network (1G), data transmission was still analog, allowing only the use of voice with a very limited capacity. In the second generation (2G), transmission became digital, adding a limited possibility of sending data messages via SMS. But it was with 3G that the adoption of mobile technology boomed.
3G technology allows users to use Internet-connected applications satisfactorily. With 2 Mbps bandwidth, much higher than the hundreds of kilobytes offered by 2G technology, it became possible to use applications such as browsers, social media, and email, thus contributing to the popularization of smartphone use. This technology evolved into 4G, which brought a significant improvement in the quality of real-time applications such as VoIP, streaming, and online games. 4G technology provides a bandwidth of up to 1Gbps and an average speed of over 20 Mbps.
Your mobile phone may show other symbols besides 2G, 3G, and 4G. In general, these symbols represent intermediate technologies or simply the nomenclature of some technology. For example, the abbreviations G and E refer to standards that improve 2G - also known as 2.5G and 2.75G – the H and H+ are improvements of 3G, while 4G and LTE refer to the same technology in Brazil. There are also improved versions of 4G called 4G+ or 4.5G, depending on the carrier. In 2021, the auction for the 5G frequency bands in Brazil was held and soon the technology will be widely available.
5G technology has bandwidths above 1Gbps and average speeds above 100 Mbps and can reach up to 10 Gbps. It’s ideal for ultra-high-speed video, has less latency, and further enhances users’ experiences in real-time applications. In addition, it enables more devices to be connected to the network at the same time, up to one million devices per square kilometer. The new technology also allows to integrate mobile devices with other connected devices, such as cars and smartwatches, without losing quality as it occurs with 4G. It’s the Internet of Things coming into our lives.
Therefore, when buying a smartphone, it’s important to check which data technologies are compatible. For example, if you buy a phone that supports 4G (and older) you won’t be able to upgrade and add support for 5G. The latest devices that support 5G, on the other hand, are generally backwards compatible.
When in doubt, check the manufacturer's specifications before buying. Always use devices with an homologation stamp, which guarantees that it’ll be compatible with the technologies and frequencies used by carriers in our country.
In the first scene we read the sentence “Have you ever noticed the Internet connection on your cell phone?”. A boy holding the cell phone makes a surprised expression as the acronyms 3G, 4G, and 5G pass by him. In the second scene, the boy looks at the cell phone screen with a magnifying glass and the phrase changes to “Each acronym represents a technology.” Next to the cell phone signal appears the acronym 3G, being replaced by 4G and then by 5G.
In the third scene, the acronym 3G, 4G, and 5G appear spaced apart. The sentence changes to “The newer the technology,” and below them appears the approximate launch period: 3G mid-2000s, 4G in the 2010s, and lastly 5G in the mid-2020s. The sentence changes to “The better the speed and connection.”
A bar graph appears under each technology to indicate the speed. We have 3G being represented by a car, 4G with a slightly higher bar and a picture of an airplane indicating it’s faster, and 5G with a much higher bar and a rocket indicating it’s the fastest one. Inside each of the graph’s bars there are icons representing the supported technologies: 3G is only web browsing, 4G is browsing and media, 5G is browsing, media and the Internet of Things.
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