Global mobile data traffic is growing much faster than fixed broadband data traffic, with a compound annual growth rate of 47% from 2016 to 2021, according to Cisco’s VNI Mobile 2017 report. Expansion of mobile-access bandwidth is being driven by the proliferation of web applications, cloud computing and content streaming (including audio, video and virtual reality).
The Evolution of Mobile Networks
The mobile network system, which serves as the communications backbone for cellular phones, has changed our lives and our communication over the last 30 years. Today, smartphones do not just support basic services like voice and SMS – they have become indispensable tools that offer millions of applications to improve work efficiency, continuously provide updated news information, keep us in contact with peers and friends, provide instant streaming of our favorite TV series and movies, take and share high-definition pictures and videos … our smartphones have become our personal assistants to complete all kind of tasks.
Since the first cellular mobile network system was introduced in 1981, a new mobile generation has appeared every 10 years. These mobile-network milestones remind us of just how far we’ve come since then:
- A 1G cellular system that supported analog voice service using frequency division multiple access (FDMA) was introduced in 1982.
- A 2G GSM cellular system that supported digital voice and messaging using time division multiple access (TDMA) and code division multiple access (CDMA) was introduced in 1992.
- 3G first appeared in 2001 to support digital voice and messaging, as well as data and multimedia service; it moved us to the wideband spread-spectrum with wideband code-division multiple access (WCDMA).
- 4G/LTE (long-term evolution), our current mobile-network generation, supports IP voice and data, as well as mobile Internet service. 4G has moved to complex modulation formats with orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), and was first standardized and introduced in 2012.
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