How it all started – from 2G to 5G

In Japan in 1979, the first mobile network, named 1G, was launched, and in 1991, 2G, with the GSM standard, became commercially available in Finland.

from 2G to 5G started in Japan

2G was the foundation 

With 2G, the radio signals switched from analog to digital, thus providing new opportunities for data transmission. It marked the start of a broad expansion of connected devices and what is today called the Internet of Things (IoT). The technology is still widely used for communications in critical systems and infrastructure. 

With 2G, the foundation was laid for wireless communication as we know it today. Ten years later, the first commercial mobile network was launched with the introduction of 3G, which at higher speeds provided new opportunities and is widely seen as the start of mobile data transmission. In addition to giving rise to the smart phone and mobile broadband as we know them today, it was 3G that seriously took digitization to critical societal functions. Although both 2G and 3G are based on decades of technology, they are still used by more than 50 percent of all IoT devices worldwide. 

The great technology shift to 4G 

In December 2009, Sweden, together with Norway, became the first countries to launch commercial 4G networks. Like its predecessors, the big news was higher data transfer. With the capacity of 2G and 3G, in many areas it is only possible to give out simple status messages – whether something has happened or not. With 4G came a mobile network that in many situations could match or even perform better than a terrestrial network. In short, 4G opened completely new possibilities. 

Two-way communication in audio was accompanied by video and images in real-time more seamlessly than 3G could offer. A number of connected devices could start working together to provide a better basis for decision-making for the analysis of events, locations and equipment. Artificial intelligence (AI), real-time video surveillance, smart grids for intelligent distribution, systems for measuring air pollution in big cities and advanced systems for increased climate benefits. Public services such as health and medical care also have much to gain from the advances that 4G has brought. 

High-speed real-time data transfer with 5G 

Two years ago, the expansion of 5G began in large cities and is now underway throughout Europe. An important part of the development of 5G was increased speed and decreased latency, for IoT devices. With a pronounced maximum delay of 10 milliseconds, one hundredth of a second, real-time data transmission over the mobile network is a reality. A common example where minimal delay is of the utmost importance is “platooning” where self-driving cars are wirelessly connected. By removing the need for human intervention it can increase safety, help to avoid traffic jams, and reduce fuel consumption. 

The use of 5G can also benefit welfare systems, where the rescue service can access vital parameters from the injured much faster and get to accident sites more quickly. In law and order, security guards can work more with video streams and high speeds allow advanced AI to process large amounts of data for facial recognition. 

With 4G and 5G, new doors are opening, but the expansion also brings challenges in the short term. When the networks of the future are expanded, 2G and 3G will eventually be phased out despite many critical societal functions still depending on them today.  

It is therefore urgent for the whole community to start phasing out equipment dependent on 2G and 3G – from emergency telephones in elevators to medical equipment.  

Your guide to the technology shift:

Read more in our guide to the technology shift to the technology shift to find out more and get help on the way to securing your critical systems for the future.