1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G: understand the evolution of mobile internet

by Kelvin
1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G: understand the evolution of mobile internet

A new generation of mobile connections emerges to fill the needs of the previous generation. This is how society evolved from the connections offered by the 1st generation of mobile internet, which allowed voice calls, to 5G, which promises to integrate society as a whole, offering much more than network speed.

Mobile networks work through radio frequencies that talk to your cell phone. Each geographic area is divided into cells, and each of these has a radio base station, which is formed by antennas with receivers and signal transmitters connected to a telephone exchange.


Each cell supports a limited amount of connections, but the advance of technologies allowed, little by little, more and more users connected per square kilometer, until reaching 5G, which allows 1 million connections.

Check out the evolution process of mobile phone connections below.

G or 1G

The 1st generation of mobile connections emerged with the simple objective of enabling voice calls on a wireless device, enabling the execution of calls on the move. However, due to the low traffic capacity and the high cost, it was not clear what was the growth potential of the new technology.

Therefore, there was no standardization of signals, that is, Europe had several different standards, for example, the Total Access Communication System (TACS) for the UK, Austria, Spain, Ireland and Italy; the NMT450 for Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark; and Radiocom2000 for France.

The Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS — advanced mobile phone system) standard was first adopted in the United States, having been developed by Bell Labs and Motorola, and implemented in 1983. This standard was also followed by several countries in America, among them Brazil.

Motorola is a company that started its activities in Chicago, Illinois, in the year 1928. At the time, brothers Paul and Joseph Galvin bought a company called Stewart Battery Company, which had gone bankrupt. The first products manufactured by Motorola, therefore, were battery eliminators, which were intended to enable home radios to run on electricity.

Although the technology quickly became obsolete, Motorola has still been able to revolutionize several growing markets since its founding, such as car radios in 1930; commercial FM communications system in 1944; mobile devices aimed at personal communication (the forerunner of the cell phone), in 1973, in addition to several other achievements.

Even in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong, during Apollo 11, communicated with Earth, when man went to the Moon for the first time, using a Motorola telecommunications device.

Going back to AMPS, it operated in the 800 MHz band. Basically, the bands were split between 30 kHz channels, which is made possible by Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA), which reserves a bandwidth of frequency for each channel and can be used all the time.

Signals received from a transmitter covered a specific area, called a cell. When a user left that cell and joined another, the signal was transferred without transition or interference. This was the great watershed for the G technology and what enabled the advancement of mobility in telephony.


While the United States (USA) needed better performance, Europe aimed to standardize the systems. That’s how the 2nd generation of mobile phones started to use digital technology, leaving the analog aside and allowing integration with digital circuits.

The US then created the IS-54, IS-136 and IS-95 standards to increase traffic capacity. Europe, on the other hand, unified the standards creating the Global System for Mobile (GSM – global system for mobile), which enabled the massification of mobile phones, as investments were attracted and production costs fell.

The focus of 2G was to offer mobile digital telephony to users; then, the voice channel was adapted for transferring data bits. However, GSM (which became the benchmark for the 2nd generation of mobile internet) can be divided into 3 phases: in the first phase, voice calls, SMS, synchronous and asynchronous data, as well as asynchronous packet transmission were offered; in the second, it started to offer e-mail services, an increase in the number of users (and a decrease in voice quality), improvement in SMS and data services for general information (weather and sports, for example); in the third, the implementation of data packages with high transmission rates, the famous GPRS, began.


The General Packet Radio Service (GRPS — packet radio transmission standard) was a transition point between 2G and 3G. Also known as 2.5G, its operation was focused on data transfer. The GRPS connection had a speed of 32 Kbps to 80 Kbps.


The Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE — improved data transfer for the evolution of GSM) worked like the evolution of GRPS, with a modulation system that increased the speed of the internet. However, it did not reach the 3rd generation of mobile internet, being considered a 2.75G. Despite the higher network speed, latency was still high, as in GRPS, which slowed down web site browsing. Bandwidth capacity reached 384 Kbps.


The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS — universal mobile telecommunications system) was the first technology that emerged in the 3rd generation of mobile internet, which began to be used in Brazil in 2007, in plans offered by Claro.

Its implementation was based on Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA – broadband code division multiple access), a radio frequency standard that allowed connections of up to 2 Mbps for download and upload.

3G allowed for video calls, communication via VoIP, mainly, and access to TV on the cell phone, in addition to improving the sending of e-mails and SMS.


The High Speed ​​Packet Access (HPSA — High Speed ​​Packet Access) is the latest. With even lower latency and higher internet speed than WCDMA access mode, it can even be considered a 3.5G.

The updated model, HPSA+, increases download and upload rates. In 2012, when it began to be implemented by Vivo in Brazil, the maximum packet limit reached 6 Mbps, but the speed increased over time.


Also known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), 4G is one of the most advanced standards on the market today. Unlike previous generations of mobile networks, LTE prioritizes data traffic over voice traffic, which makes 4G faster and more stable. Browsing speed depends on the compatibility of the device used, but it can reach 300 Mbps download and 75 Mbps upload. Furthermore, latency is also much lower compared to previous generations.

LTE+, on the other hand, has evolved to the point of maintaining a 4G network connection on different frequencies at the same time, which optimizes the network and ensures greater speed of internet access. 4G enabled the advancement of several areas related to mobile connections, such as the games industry, streaming services and cloud computing.

Network distribution of the 4th generation of mobile connections is also more efficient, since, unlike 3G, the packaged and transmitted data are sent more quickly to the final consumer.


The objective of 5G is to expand the mobile connection network to as many devices as possible: instead of focusing only on the mobile network, it expands to cars, appliances, telemedicine, agriculture, education and other areas of the Internet of Things (IoT – Internet of Things).

Using a wider wave spectrum than previous mobile internet generations, the 5G internet will work by adapting the antennas already used, occupying frequencies between 600 MHz and 700 MHz, 26 GHz and 28 GHz, 38 GHz and 42 GHz.

The 5th generation smartphone 5G connection technology has extremely low latency. The time between upload and download of data will be a maximum of 1 millisecond.

As for speed in numbers, estimates show that 5G data transfer will be above 10 Gbps.

By comparison, the 4G network downloads a 1-hour HD movie in about 6 hours. On the 5G internet, a movie of the same duration is downloaded in 6 seconds.


In July 2020, the Vivo and Claro started the first tests involving 5G, with DSS technology, in Brazil, followed by Tim, which started making the network available in September. Users of smartphones compatible with 5G with DSS technology that had plans in one of these operators were able to start using the technology.

Motorola, which was one of the forerunners of mobile connection technologies as it helped implement the AMPS standard in 1983, today, with the arrival of 5G, continues to set market trends, and the proof is the launch of the first smartphones compatible with 5th generation technologies.

The moto g 5G, the moto g 5G plus, the motorola edge and the motorola edge+, for example, were launched in 2020 and in March 2021, the moto g100 was launched, making Motorola one of the companies that launched the most compatible devices with the technology. 5G in Brazil. The devices were designed to unite the new market needs with options that bring comfort to the user, with state-of-the-art hardware to maximize performance and, at the same time, a price compatible with the reality of the Brazilian consumer.

The arrival of 5G will not be overnight. Therefore, it is important that efforts are made from all sides: from the launch of devices compatible with the technology and with the Brazilian consumer market, to the expansion of signal capacity. The revolution caused by the 5th generation network is already a reality and the future is closer than ever.