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Mobile communication has changed the way people used to communicate. The advancements made within the technology field can be attributed to these changes. Communication has been joined to mobility due to this, thus people are finding it easier to interact without necessarily moving over long distances.
There has been increased growth within the wireless industry both in terms of subscribers and mobile technology (Lemstra, Hayes and Groenewegen 47). The use of fixed lines has reduced over the years. In its place is an increasing number of fixed line subscribers.
Mobile cellular users were four times more than users of fixed lines by the year 2010. Development of cheaper mobile phones also facilitated the growth. More people have access to mobile phones due to their ease of use and maintenance.
Mobile phone communications over cellular network work through the use of packet data. This is a wireless data transmission technology that sends digital radio signals through wireless packet switching. The cell phone is a device that can be considered as a simple radio transmitter and receiver. It is also equipped with an omnidirectional antenna.
The cell phone is able to transmit radio signals to a nearby cell tower. The distance of the cell phone from the cell tower can vary greatly depending on the technology used (Steinbock 22). With strong wireless technologies, the distance can reach distances of up to 250 miles. A service box is also attached to the cell tower. Thus, both the cell tower and the service box comprise a base station.
The base station is then connected to a switching station via cables. The switching center deals with establishing a connection between one cell phone and the called number.
The developments in communication networks resulted from the realization that networks should be efficient. Thus the designs of these networks should also encourage efficiency in the network’s functionality. This led to the network design and optimization initiatives by various telecommunications stakeholders. The stakeholders include network operators, device vendors, wireless network experts and governments.
Thus, they frequently meet and discuss various specifications that would guide a new generation of wireless communication network. Once a specification has been agreed upon, various parties come together and implement a given wireless network by using an established specification.
Wireless technologies have been characterized with the shortest time in which they have advanced and evolved. The latest wireless technology is fourth generation (4G). Wireless technologies have followed a trend whereby efficiency and performance within the mobile environment were the main goals. The first generation (1G) was able to achieve basic mobile voice.
Through this, mobile devices could communicate with each other over long distances. Thus, it was known as the FM technology and resulted in mobile radios that could access radio signals within a wide range. The network was used during the 1980’s (ABI Research 29).
The second generation (2G) then evolved which was characterized by better coverage and capacity. It was able to solve the problems witnessed by the 1G networks. The 2G networks were considered digital systems.
Thus, such services like short messaging and data became available. Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and CDMA2000 1xRTT are the basic 2G technologies.
Sometimes CDMA2000 1xRTT is referred as a 3G technology as it meets the minimum speeds expected of a 3G network. EDGE, a method of data access over the cellular network, is also considered as 3G though it is still 2G. The 2G networks became available in the 1990s (ABI Research 31).
Thereafter, the third generation (3G) network arose and it sought to transmit data at higher speeds. This was done so that mobile networks could be as fast as mobile broadband. Various specifications were established by the ITU to detail what 3G networks are characterized by.
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This network was expected to provide network speeds of up to 2Mbps while indoors. At mobile speeds the throughput was at 144kbps and 384kbps at pedestrian speeds. 3G networks are comprised of CDMA2000 EV-DO, UMTS-HSPA and WiMAX (Sauter 111). The agreements on the requirements of a 3G network were established by a project called International Mobile Telephone 2000 (IMT-2000)
The fourth generation (4G) was later developed which brought with it better advancements within the telecommunication field. This network catered for multiuser environments through the introduction of advanced mobile services. It also supported both fixed and mobile networks. Moreover, the 4G network could handle a varied range of data rates and applications with high mobility.
Adaptation of 4G networks
3G upgrades led to the development of LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMAX networks. Thus, the cellular industry has easily adapted to these new standards. In places where the technology is functional, older 2G and 3G networks are still used. This is because many people do not have mobile phones that can access 4G networks. Thus, they are forced to depend on the older versions as subscription grows.
Thus, LTE is not universal. It is still a new technology so most cell phones with 4G capabilities are also backward compatible with older networks like 3G and 2G (Saboji and Akki 80). The principles established by IMT-Advanced guide the characteristics and deployment of 4G networks.
4G networks are expected to operate with a very high spectral efficiency. Moreover, 4G networks should be operable within 40 MHz radio channels and more. Thus, 4G networks can reach 100MHz radio channels. Many countries are expected to roll out 4G networks by 2020.
4G networks have a throughput rate totaling 1.5 Gbps. This is attributed to their spectral efficiency which during its peak is at 15 bps/Hz. 4G arose from the realization that 3G networks may become overwhelmed by applications that require intensive bandwidth.
4G networks have speeds reaching ten times of those provided by 3G. The first commercially available 4G standards were WiMAX offered in the U.S. and LTE (Lemstra, Hayes and Groenewegen 56).
The development of new technologies within the communication industry was triggered by increasing user demand. In comparison to 3G, the technological advancements arising from 4G were to combine all previous mobile technologies that exist. Thus, 4G is characterized by a technological progression where it advances and improves all previous mobile networks.
These include GSM, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and IMT 2000. Thus, 4G has been referred to as all-IP as it combines all technologies that existed. This is done to ensure harmonization of all services to be provided.
In comparison to other networks, the functionality of 4G networks is distributed amongst a set of gateways and servers (Agbinya 34). Thus, the network is cheaper in deployment and application.
People depend on communication networks for the consumption of both video and television streaming services. 4G networks have made these services faster, thus it has had a significant impact on social interactions. It has also become easier to make video calls due to the speed and latency of 4G networks.
4G networks led to performance improvements in various multimedia applications. For instance, it has facilitated online gaming due to the increased speeds. Moreover, more people are able to stream videos online (Steinbock 36).
Online video games have been significantly impacted by 4G networks. More role playing and social games are being developed by gaming companies to cater to hardcore online gamers. This has also facilitated connectivity whereby more people can easily play and download games. Thus, it is easier and cheaper to purchase games online instead of using hard copies. Moreover, real time interactions through games have become easier.
This is especially important for multiplayer games where real time interactions are important to enjoy the game. The online entertainment industry has also grown due to the introduction of 4G networks. With the increased speeds, high quality videos can be uploaded online and also be watched. Thus, 4G has facilitated online sharing of videos as it takes less time to download a high quality video.
HD movies have also become the norm, and this has led to increasing growth of the online entertainment industry. Many companies are now distributing movies online as 4G ensures that consumers will enjoy high quality movies without loss of clarity (OECD 14).
Video communication has also been impacted. Many business organizations and individuals regard video communication highly as it makes communication over long distances realistic. Thus, 4G networks have provided a cheaper alternative that is faster and effective. 4G networks have proved to be advantageous socially.
The merge of various technologies that comprise 4G has enabled cheaper or free roaming (Agbinya 38). Thus, a subscriber can use their home country’s 4G network from wherever they are. This is because 4G networks are expected to have a global coverage. The differences that existed due to 3G networks will be minimized and users will be able to roam from any place in the world with 4G coverage.
Socially, 4G networks have facilitated collaborative efforts among professionals and intellects. This is because many users can access the network without causing a strain or decrease in speeds. This makes it easier for many people to collaborate on a specific issue. The current 3G networks are characterized by network congestion and strain constantly.
Many different mobile cellphones are competing for the same resources too. With 4G, devices will co-operate instead (Rumney and Agilent Technologies 32). This means that mobile phones will work in a similar way like broadband routers. Thus, mobile devices will become part of the cellular infrastructure itself. The users of a given network will have control of the network as they will own part of the network.
Thus, the network will be able to determine how much data is required by the user and will adapt accordingly. Thus, network capacity will be shifted based in the demands of a given user within the network. Issues like dropped calls due to congestion will be avoided because the mobile phone will have access to better capacity when need be (Kumar et al. 70). VoIP (Voice over IP) services will also improve.
Previous cellular networks like 3G and 2G were characterized by flat data rates. Operators used a flat data rate for charging their consumers data needs. With 4G, flat data rates will no longer be used. Thus, 4G networks will use a tiered model of pricing. Initially, users paid a flat rate and this led to strain on the operator’s network. Moreover, users did not fully gain from the networks use due to constant congestions.
With tiered rates, the operators will be able to gain. Initially, consumers will be uncertain about tiered rates. This is because many of them will reason that they will be overcharged for their internet use. This is not true as tiered rates encourage a better user experience. With 4G networks in place, a consumer will be able to use as much data as they need based on an established tiered system (Olsson and Mulligan 134).
4G networks will also enable more people to have access to faster network speeds. Broadband requires physical infrastructure to be established. This is depended on physical region and is also limited by costs. With 4G, network access will depend on users who have mobile devices with 4G connectivity. Thus, more people will be able to utilize 4G networks using their phones.
Faster networks have led to development of network sharing technologies known as wireless hotspots. This is a situation where a single mobile subscriber can share their internet connection to a variety of mobile devices (Lemstra, Hayes and Groenewegen 112). Thus, more people can enjoy the benefits of a faster networking speed through this mechanism.
4G networks have led to an intense change within the society. The social implications have been profound. Many people have found it easier to communicate through 4G. Social progression with 4G has led to a lasting impact on intellectuals and students. Leaning has become easier as more students use their internet for their educational needs. Social changes are also seen in the widening of the generation gap.
With faster internet access speeds, the generations that live now and in the future will be different from the generations that existed during the 2G period. Thus, rifts can be witnessed among the younger and older generations. Knowledge is considered as power, thus the younger generations can be seen as to be more powerful than the older generations.
Most western generations with improved data access speeds or have 4G are characterized by this drift. 4G has enhanced these social changes. Its impact on personal life can be compared to the effects of computers to businesses (Olsson and Mulligan 88). Societal changes will continue into the future as younger populations progress due to ease of accessing information.
4G cell services have also led to various economic progresses. With better and faster methods of communication, the growth of the economy has been facilitated. 4G network services has led to establishment of various companies that have had positive effects on the economy. Some of these companies include Amazon where commodity transactions are conducted online.
4G networks are advantageous to the economy, especially in cases where a business depends on communication and its employees travel constantly. Efficient and effective communication infrastructure can ensure that a business is successful. Thus, 4G networks will be advantageous. 4G networks lead to changes in ways of doing business, just as 3G led to changes in how business was conducted.
In many countries, broadband and communication networks are considered national infrastructure just like energy and transport. Thus, many countries will efficient and fast communication networks witness an increase in economic growth. Adoption of 4G networks will encourage a country’s economic growth (OECD 21). There are various advantages that arise from 4G connectivity.
Business communication will occur efficiently. Moreover, businesses will be encouraged to establish themselves in a country or region that has good network connectivity that is considered fast.
Countries that are currently trying 4G networks are characterized by stronger economies than countries which have yet to start 4G infrastructure development. New infrastructure is required for 4G services. Moreover, users also need to have a 4G enabled cellphone as to access the service. Countries with already established 4G networks have witnessed economic growth due to the effects of faster communication networks.
Evolution of cellular networks
The evolution of 4G cellular networks began with the adoption of 2G networks. The European Commission made GSM compulsory in Europe in the early 1990’s. This is attributed to its lower power consumption. Thus, it allowed the production of smaller handsets which had greater security and a long battery life.
Nokia, Ericsson, regional wireless carriers and operators seized the moment to guarantee their domestic advantage within foreign markets. On the other hand, licensing issues were being faced by the U.S. as it tried to find the best network for its region. By 2000, Western Europe was home to the largest cellular market (ABI Research 32).
Continuous historical advancements led to the establishment of 4G networks. Before the change from voice to data, mobile evolution was always seen as movement from analog to broadband. At the start, the objective was to achieve a global standard for the 3G era (UMTS). This was not easy to achieve as Qualcomm came up with the CDMA technology that was considered more efficient than UMTS.
Despite this, GSM still determined the evolution of platforms until the internet became dominant and important. After many regional disagreements and dialogues, a single flexible standard was adopted by all parties (Saboji and Akki 82).
The adoption of 3G began much earlier in Japan. NTT DoCoMo, a major operator in Japan, was the pioneer of the transition in 1999. This occurred two years before the official implementation of the first 3G networks around the world.
With the development of new cellular platforms, the core technologies have resulted in an increase on the capacity held by a spectrum. Thus, stakeholders in the mobile industry have aggressively demanded for improved wireless networks that are of high speeds. By 2005, a large percentage of the world was yet to adapt to 3G networks
In conclusion, 4G networks have evolved for a long time since the adoption of 1G network in the 1980’s. The need for faster speeds and efficiency has led to increased developments within the communication field. This has led to constant evolution as various stakeholders in the communication industry try to encourage faster network speeds.
There has been an increasing demand from mobile subscribers which influenced researchers to come up with new specifications that guide 4G networks. Through history, there has been a trend to merge existing technologies and make them efficient. 1G networks were able to guarantee basic mobile voice and signaled the beginning of evolving mobile networks.
The 2G networks were then characterized with better coverage and capacity. This was followed by 3G which led to improved speeds and finally 4G which will ensure greater improvements and benefits. 4G systems will function as complete IP-depended wireless internet networks.
It will be able to provide various telecommunication services, inclusive of mobile services that are advanced. Thus, this essay provides an analysis of 4G networks and its technological, social and economic progression.
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