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Mobile Evolution v1.5

Mobile Evolution v1.5

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Published by Sandeep Guha Niyogi
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Published by: Sandeep Guha Niyogi on Oct 04, 2008
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Evolution of Mobile Communications: from 1G to 4G
Vasco Pereira and Tiago Sousa
 Department of Informatics Engineering of the University of Coimbra
Today, mobile communications play a central role in the voice/data network arena. With the deployment of mass scale 3G just around the corner, new directions are already being researched. In this paper weaddress the evolution of mobile communications, from its first generation, 1G, to the latest 3G and give aglimpse of foreseeable future of 4G.
1. Introduction
From the early analog mobile generation (1G) to the last implemented third generation (3G) theparadigm has changed. The new mobile generations do not pretend to improve the voice communicationexperience but try to give the user access to a new global communication reality. The aim is to reachcommunication ubiquity (every time, everywhere) and to provide users with a new set of services.The growth of the number of mobile subscribers over the last years led to a saturation of voice-orientedwireless telephony. From a number of 214 million subscribers in 1997 to 1.162 millions in 2002 [1], it ispredicted that by 2010 there will be 1700 million subscribers worldwide [2] (see Figure 1). It is now time toexplore new demands and to find new ways to extend the mobile concept. The first steps have already beentaken by the 2.5G, which gave users access to a data network (e.g. Internet access, MMS - MultimediaMessage Service). However, users and applications demanded more communication power. As a responseto this demand a new generation with new standards has been developed - 3G. In spite of the big initialeuphoria that evolved this technology, only one 3G network exists in commercial use today. This network has been deployed in Japan in 2001 using international standard IMT-2000, with great success.
Figure 1
– Evolution of mobile and fixed subscribers [3]In the last years, benefiting from 3G constant delays, many new mobile technologies were deployedwith great success (e.g. Wi-Fi). Now, all this new technologies (e.g. UMTS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) claim for aconvergence that can only be achieved by a new mobile generation. This new mobile generation to bedeployed must work with many mobile technologies while being transparent to the final user.
2. The first mobile generations (1G to 2.5G)
The first operational cellular communication system was deployed in the Norway in 1981 and wasfollowed by similar systems in the US and UK. These first generation systems provided voicetransmissions by using frequencies around 900 MHz and analogue modulation.The second generation (2G) of the wireless mobile network was based on low-band digital datasignaling. The most popular 2G wireless technology is known as Global Systems for MobileCommunications (GSM). The first GSM systems used a 25MHz frequency spectrum in the 900MHz band.FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access), which is a standard that lets multiple users access a group of radio frequency bands and eliminates interference of message traffic, is used to split the available 25MHzof bandwidth into 124 carrier frequencies of 200 kHz each. Each frequency is then divided using a TDMA(Time Division Multiple Access) scheme into eight timeslots and allows eight simultaneous calls on thesame frequency. This protocol allows large numbers of users to access one radio frequency by allocatingtime slots to multiple voice or data calls. TDMA breaks down data transmission, such as a phoneconversation, into fragments and transmits each fragment in a short burst, assigning each fragment a timeslot. With a cell phone, the caller does not detect this fragmentation.Today, GSM systems operate in the 900MHz and 1.8 GHz bands throughout the world with theexception of the Americas where they operate in the 1.9 GHz band. Within Europe, the GSM technologymade possible the seamless roaming across all countries.While GSM technology was developed in Europe, CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technologywas developed in North America. CDMA uses spread spectrum technology to break up speech into small,digitized segments and encodes them to identify each call
CDMA distinguishes between multipletransmissions carried simultaneously on a single wireless signal. It carries the transmissions on that signal,freeing network room for the wireless carrier and providing interference-free calls for the user. Severalversions of the standard are still under development. CDMA promises to open up network capacity forwireless carriers and improve the quality of wireless messages and users' access to the wireless airwaves.Whereas CDMA breaks down calls on a signal by codes, TDMA breaks them down by time. The result inboth cases is an increased network capacity for the wireless carrier and a lack of interference for the caller.While GSM and other TDMA-based systems have become the dominant 2G wirelesses technologies,CDMA technology are recognized as providing clearer voice quality with less background noise, fewerdropped calls, enhanced security, greater reliability and greater network capacity.The Second Generation (2G) wireless networks mentioned above are also mostly based on circuit-switched technology, are digital and expand the range of applications to more advanced voice services. 2Gwireless technologies can handle some data capabilities such as fax and short message service at the datarate of up to 9.6 kbps, but it is not suitable for web browsing and multimedia applications.So-called ‘2.5G’ systems recently introduced enhance the data capacity of GSM and mitigate some of itslimitations
These systems add packet data capability to GSM networks, and the most importanttechnologies are GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). WAPdefines how Web pages and similar data can be passed over limited bandwidth wireless channels to smallscreens being built into new mobile telephones. At the next lower layer, GPRS defines how to add IPsupport to the existing GSM infrastructure. GPRS provides both a means to aggregate radio channels forhigher data bandwidth and the additional servers required to off-load packet traffic from existing GSMcircuits. It supplements today's Circuit Switched Data and Short Message Service. GPRS is not related toGPS (the Global Positioning System), a similar acronym that is often used in mobile contexts. Theoreticalmaximum speeds of up to 171.2 kilobits per second (kbps) are achievable with GPRS using all eighttimeslots at the same time. This is about ten times as fast as current Circuit Switched Data services on GSMnetworks. However, it should be noted that it is unlikely that a network operator will allow all timeslots tobe used by a single GPRS user. Additionally, the initial GPRS terminals (phones or modems) are onlysupporting only one to four timeslots. The bandwidth available to a GPRS user will therefore be limited.All these wireless technologies are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1 –
Transport Technologies [4]
TransportTechnologyDescription Typical Use / DataTransmission SpeedPros/cons
Time Division Multiple Accessis 2G technologyVoice and data Up to9.6kbpsLow battery consumption, buttransmission is one-way, and its speedpales next to 3G technologies
Global System for MobileCommunications is a 2G digitalcell phone technologyVoice and data. ThisEuropean system uses the900MHz and 1.8GHzfrequencies. In the UnitedStates it operates in the1.9GHz PCS band up to9.6kbpsPopular around the globe. Worldwideroaming in about 180 countries, butGSM's short messaging service (GSM-SMS) only transmits one-way, and canonly deliver messages up to 160characters long
General Packet Radio Service isa 2.5G network that supportsdata packetsData Up to 115kbps; theAT&T Wireless GPRSnetwork will transmit dataat 40kbps to 60kbpsMessages not limited to 160 characters,like GSM SMS
Enhanced Data GSMEnvironment is a 3G digitalnetwork Data Up to 384kbpsMay be temporary solution foroperators unable to get W-CDMAlicenses
Code Division Multiple Accessis a 2G technology developedby Qualcomm that istransitioning to 3GAlthough behind TDMA in number of subscribers, this fast-growingtechnology has more capacity thanTDMA
Wideband CDMA (also knownas Universal MobileTelecommunications System-UMTS) is 3G technology. OnNovember 6, 2002, NTTDoCoMo, Ericsson, Nokia, andSiemens agreed on licensingarrangements for W-CDMA,which should set a benchmark for royalty ratesVoice and data. UMTS isbeing designed to offerspeeds of at least 144kbpsto users in fast-moving
vehiclesUp to 2Mbps initially. Upto 10Mbps by 2005,according to designersLikely to be dominant outside theUnited States, and therefore good forroaming globally. Commitments fromU.S. operators are currently lacking,though AT&T Wireless performedUMTS tests in 2002. Primarily to beimplemented in Asia-Pacific region
A 3G technology, 1xRTT is thefirst phase of CDMA2000Voice and data Up to144kbpsProponents say migration from TDMA
is simpler with CDMA2000 than W-CDMA, and that spectrum use is moreefficient. But W-CDMA will likely bemore common in Europe
Delivers data on a separatechannelData Up to 2.4Mbps (see CDMA2000 1xRTT above)
Integrates voice and data on thesame channelVoice and data Up to2.4Mbps(see CDMA2000 1xRTT above)
Meanwhile, developers are focusing on the much-hyped third generation (3G) of wireless systems.
3. Third mobile generation networks (3G)
All 2G wireless systems are voice-centric. GSM includes short message service (SMS), enabling textmessages of up to 160 characters to be sent, received and viewed on the handset. Most 2G systems alsosupport some data over their voice paths, but at painfully slow speeds usually 9.6 Kb/s or 14.4 Kb/s. So inthe world of 2G, voice remains king while data is already dominant in wireline communications. And, fixedor wireless, all are affected by the rapid growth of the Internet.Planning for 3G started in the 1980s. Initial plans focused on multimedia applications such asvideoconferencing for mobile phones. When it became clear that the real killer application was the Internet,

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