Mobile Networks – HSPA, HSDPA, LTE and 5G

Have you ever got confused between mobile network names and generation,i.e. 2G,3G,4G,5G or EDGE, HSPA, LTE,VOLTE etc. Go throgh this article till end and alll of your doubts about mobile phone generations will be cleared. So Let’s go ahead and learn about mobile networks.

First all of, we need to know what ‘G’ refers to. G refers to the generation of mobile phone network and the number of ‘G’s differentiate the networks on the basis of different features like the speed, reliability, technology used to transmit the data by network provider company through towers and radio antenna in your mobile phone. So Let’s go ahead and learn about mobile networks.

1G or 1st Gen Network

1G Network, or first generation, was introduced in late 1979, which was the first generation of wireless telecommunications or Mobile phone communications. These uses analogue signals to transfer the voice from one place to another. Due to the analogue signals, they were very hard to compress and hence requires a greater size of radio antenna to transmit and receive signals. No internet connectivity was there in 1G Network. The cell phones on 1G network doesn’t even works in roaming.


2G Network, or second generation network was first commercially launched with GSM Standard in Finland in 1991. It have many advantages over its predecessor 1G. It works on Digital transmission of voice and data due to which compression is possible leading to reliable and fast data transfer. Encryption is also possible because of digital transmission.

Internet Service was possible wireless in mobile phones with 2G network. SMS or Short Messaging service, Picture Messaging and MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. All these were possible only when 2G was introduced.

2.5G Network or GPRS Standards

2.5G Network Technology used packet switched domain instead of circuit switched domain used in 2G. It provides faster data services because bundling of time slots is possible for circuit-switched domain system. It is also called GPRS Standard, or General Packet Radio Service.

2.75G Network or EDGE Standard

EDGE or Enhanced GPRS or Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution is one of the lowest type of network for which the operators like Vodafone and airtel, still have spectrum. It have enhanced data transmission rates from 2.5G Network. Can work on a speed of about 400Kb/s and peak data rate up to 1 Mb/s. It is considered as pre-3G radio technology also standardised by 3GPP as a part of GSM family. Most used type of mobile networks in Feature Phones.

3G Network or UMTS Standard

Introduced in 1998. This was an upgrade to 2.75G network. It uses UMTS or Universal Mobile Telecommunications System standard. Can offer a download speed of 14.4Mb/s and upload speed of 5.76Mb/s. It is backward-compatible and uses the same frequencies as W-CDMA. 3G was a main application found for Fixed Wireless Internet Access, Video Calls etc.

3.5G Network or HSPA Standard

Came in use after late 2000s. It was based on HSPA or High Speed Packet Access standard which can provide a speed of upto 34Mb/s. It is considered as parent to HSPA+ standard which is composed of HSDPA and HSUPA standards.

3.75G Network or HSPA+ Standard

It came in use in early 2003. 3.75G network is an update of HSPA Standard, bringing it to HSPA+ or EHSPA or Enhanced High Speed Packet access. It is composed of two main standards, namely, HSUPA or High Speed Uplink Packet Access and HSDPA or High Speed Downlink Packet Access which provides a great speed in download and upload both. It’s speed can go up to 42Mb/s.

3.95G Network or LTE Standard

It came use in 2004 and based on a brand new standard named, LTE or Long Term Evolution. Its speed can go up to 56Mb/s. It increased the data transfer speed capability using different radio interface together with network core improvements. Marketing terms for this one is, however, 4G.

4G Network or Advanced LTE Standard

With 4G network, the mobile broadband internet access became possible. It uses an Advanced LTE standard which is based on all new technical specifications. Can have data transmission rates of up to 100 Mb/s at peak conditions. It is based on new frequency and bands. Even, Reliance Jio have only spectrum of 4G LTE network. It came in use first in Norway and Sweden in 2009. Most of the people in India, at this time, prefers this among all mobile networks.

VoLTE – What Really it is?

Normal 4G Network do not support circuit-switched transmission. VoLTE is an enhancement in 4G radios attached in mobile phones. With this enhancement, we can use packet-switched and circuit-switched transmission at the same time where we use packet-switched transmission for accessing data and circuit-switched transmission for encrypted phone calls so that talking over a phone call do not affect the internet connection.

4.5G Network or LTE Advanced Pro Standard

The different names of 4.5G Network are A-LTE Pro, 4.5G Pro, 4.9G, Pre-5G. It doesn’t came to the market that much as this was not a major update on 4G standard but it came in testing phase. Includes specific new technologies such as LTE IoT, 256-QAM etc. It has enhanced data transfer rates from 4G Network.

How 5G Network will Work?

Introduced in late 2018. Most of the telecommunication companies are going to buy the 5G spectrum. Unlike 4G network, which covers a specific area by a large tower that connects to satellite, 5G network will have a large number of small router-type antennas which will cover a small distance and hence makes a 5G ecosystem. The 5G network signals can be easily break by any obstruction like wall etc. The 5G network is under development. However, Brands started introducing 5G phones in India. You can read about one here.

Learn more from Wikipedia here.

Author: Prateek

Technology Enthusiast, Computer Science Student

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