Do you know that 4 mobile generations have shaped the Smartphone you own today?

There has been a significant technological improvement since the launch of the first mobile phone in 1979 to today’s touchscreen phones.

Are you aware of what each of the 4 mobile generations contributed to the phone capabilities?

Relax. We have highlighted what improvement each of the 4 generations offered.

Read through to the conclusion to get all mobile phone developments (1979-Now)

1G (First Generation)

Introduction of 1G telephone technology in 1979 was one of the worlds greatest inventions in the telecommunication industry.

The generation introduced wireless phones that people could carry a phone around hence the name mobile phone.

Invention: 1G introduced analogue signal communication that made it possible to transmit voice signal from the sender to the receiver

Technology: 1G used Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) technology in transmitting signals.

Data rates: 1G transmission supported up to a maximum data rates of 2.4kbps.

Services: Voice only. 2.4kbps data rates can only support voice services. Note that 2.4kbps is the speech coding rate telecommunication industry use up to date.

Limitation: 1G had 3 main limitations as explained below. First, the analogue signal transmission was prone to environmental interference like rain and electromagnetic radiations.

Secondly, the FDMA technology exhibited inefficient utilization of the spectrum that compromised transmission capacity. Thirdly, the analogue transmission was not secure.

Research to solve 1G limitations led to the introduction of the second generation (2G) mobile generation.

2G (Second Generation) 

The mobile communication standard of 2G technology is referred to as the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM).

In that regard, 2G networks are commonly referred to as GSM networks. The GSM network was first launched in December 1991 in Finland.

The 2G technology saw an improvement of the phones beyond voice only. For the first time in history, a mobile phone could support data services.

Invention: 2G was possible after the invention of digital transmission and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) for data transmission.

Technology: TDMA and CDMA technologies. GSM technology use Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in transmitting signals.

Data rates: 50kbps. 2G technology can attain maximum data rates of 50kbps. This was a great improvement from 2.4kbps in 1G.

Services: multi-media services (MMS). MMS refers to Voice and data. Just like 1G, 2G support voice. Secondly, GPRS allowed internet access though at slow speeds. Therefore, 2G phones support voice, SMS, text, and internet access using GPRS.

2G Limitations: The 50kbps speed was slow for internet access. Therefore, there was a need for improved speed for better data rates for faster internet access and to support more internet-based services.

However, 2G technology is still in existence. Most telecommunication companies and phones still support technology for voice services.

All smartphones you see around today have 2G capabilities. Note that the telecommunication industry abandoned 1G completely due to poor analogue quality.

It is worth noting that there was no new invention after 2G. This is to mean 2G and beyond generations use digital transmission technology.

Therefore, Engineers in the subsequent generations (3G, 4G, and 5G) focus on improved data rates to support more services.

3G (Third Generation)

The 3G communication standard is known as Ultra Modern Telecommunication Services (UMTS). Japan was the first country to launch a 3G network in 2001.

As mentioned earlier, Engineers in coming up with 3G technology focused on improving 2G data rates.

Technology: WCDMA. 3G use Wide Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) technology.

Therefore, 3G mobile networks and phones are also known as WCDMA or UMTS networks or phones.

3G Data Rates: 2mbps. WCDMA can achieve maximum data rates of 2mbps. For the first time, mobile speeds attained megabits per second (Mbps) rates.

Services: 2mbps data rates are high data speeds enough to support motion video, streaming, video conferencing, and faster internet access. Thus, 3G phones exhibit all these capabilities.

4G (Fourth Generation)

The 4G communication standard is referred to as Long Term Evolution (LTE) thus 4G phones are interchangeably known as LTE phones. The U.S. was the first country to launch the LTE network in 2010.

Technology: MIMO/OFDMA. LTE introduced Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna system used in both the smartphones and telecom microwave antennae. It also introduced the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). OFDMA and MIMO gave rise to LTE-FDD and LTE-TDD technologies that greatly increased mobile data speeds.

4G Data Speeds: 20-100mbps. LTE-FDD and LTE-TDD technologies increased data speeds by 10 times that of 3G to 20-100Mbps. Different countries have different speeds according to the standards.

4G Services: such high speeds have revolutionalised streaming. Therefore, 4G has enabled multi-media streaming, IP-based streaming, and data streaming. As a result, HD Movies, live matches and Television streaming services are now possible in mobile phones.

Note that 4G is the most advanced among the 4 mobile generations currently in the market. However, telecommunication engineers are even more ambitious to improve these data rates in the 5th generation.

5G (Fifth Generation) 

The fifth mobile generation is the phone technology of the future. Various countries are preparing to launch 5G technology in the next two years.

Technology: 5th generation will use Enhanced MIMO technology to increase data rates.

Data Rates: 10Gps. Telecoms manufacturers have announced they will provide 5G with data speeds of up to a maximum of 10Gps. Seriously! Yes, up to 10 Gbps data speed will be amazing.

5G Services: The most notable services the 5G will support is the much-anticipated Internet of Things (IoT). Experts argue that Seamless connectivity that high data speeds that 5G will offer will perfectly support IoT data precision demand.

Example of IoT services expected includes driverless cars, smart homes, smart offices, smart cities, and smart factories among others. Video streaming will also be seamless. Therefore, football lovers have something to smile about. You will stream football right from your bed without buffering.


There are five mobile generations technologies since the invention of mobile telephony.

However, 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G are the 4 mobile phone generations that telecommunication industries have operated so far.

The 1G, released in 1979, introduced analogue transmission to achieve a maximum of 2.4kbps. This generation introduced wireless phones.

The 2G, first released in 1991 by Finland, introduced TDMA/CDMA technology and achieve maximum data rates of 50kbps. This technology introduced data on mobile phones.

The 3G, first released in 2001 by Japan, introduced WCDMA technology to achieves maximum data rates of 2Mbps. This generation introduced video services in mobile phones.

The 4G, first released in 2010 by the US, introduced MIMO/OFDM technology to achieve data rates ranging from 20-100Mbps.

Finally, 5G will introduce Enhanced MIMO technology to achieve data speeds of 10 Gbps. Such high speed will introduce the Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities. Most Telecomm manufacturers are preparing to launch 5G network in the next two years.

Even before 5G launch, there must be some ambitious Engineers somewhere researching for 6G. We are very anxious to see what data rates 6th mobile generation will offer. Time will tell. Let’s wait. Bye for now.