Since the coming of phones, calling with them has been primary objective. But times have changed. And surely we all have had some sort of contact with internet on our phones. What you should be grateful for is the things that give you these abilities to watch YouTube on the go and call someone to tell them you are late for example. Yes, mobile networks are everywhere. And there are a lot of different ones. You have the standard connection without the ability of internet and the 3G version with faster internet. And a lot more.
GSM networks are the first widely used networks in the mobile communication history. GSM stands for Global System of Mobile communications. It makes use of digital connections which means that your voice is being picked up and transferred into digital signals (which consist of 0 and 1) and sent to a network pole nearby. This method has some good sides to it because the signal can’t easily be interrupted by any distortion. This is because the network poles that intercept your call are layed out to form a honeycomb pattern with their signal so you have better sound quality and better signal wherever you go. However 2 people cannot call at the same time on the same network pole.
A GSM connection goes through the device you are talking on, and straight to the GSM pole with the best signal in your area. A GSM network is also able to capture your location by the use of knowing which GSM pole is the closest to you. It may not be very accurate but it is useful on large scales.
A GSM network also has different bands. There are 3 of them, dual-band, tri-band and quad band. These things have the function of being able to call all over the world or just in your country.
There are 4 most used GSM networks, they are displayed in MHz. There is 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz. Each of these has a different part of the world. So for example 1800 MHz is specifically made to pick up signals in the country you bought the phone and 900 MHz is used to able to use the phone in different countries in Europe.
The same goes for 1900 MHz and 850 MHz but these are used in America. A dual band phone means it can pick up 2 of those frequencies. 900 MHz and 1800 MHz for example. They are only functional in Europe because of the 1800 MHz frequency the other frequency, 900, is used to be able to make a phone call in other countries in europe with the same SIM-card. When you are in America and you buy a dual-band phone it will only work on the 850 and 1900 frequencies.
A tri-band phone means it can pick up 3 different frequencies. So it will be functional in Europe and America for example.
A quad band phone can pick up all of the different frequencies allowing you to use it all over the world. You can see if a phone is quad-band or not though the device name. For example a Samsung Galaxy SII comes in different versions. One for Sprint or AT&T they are all called differently. But the international version is quad-band all the others are dual-band or tri-band.
GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service. The GPRS network is one of the first mobile networks with which you could go online and search the internet. It works by dividing the data it receives into little packets that it can send onto the antenna. They make use of “time-slots” too this technique sees if you are downloading anything or not and then hands you some time-slots to download from. This makes sure the broadband can be used more effectively and faster. GPRS data speeds are usually around 55 Kbit/s but the top speed of this network is 170 Kbit/s. Not really fast but it was enough for the web pages in that time.
There are classes of phones in the GPRS network - A, B and C.
A: Makes it possible for you to make a phone call and receive data at the same time.
B: Switches between calling and downloading data, so it does it automatically but downloading and calling at the same time is not possible. This one is the most common.
C: Can only use 1 of these so you can call or you can download. This is often used on data modems for computers because the never really have to make a call.
There are some good and some bad sides to this network.
- you can be online the whole time without having to log in every single time. You can acces the internet where and whenever you want.
- you pay only for the data you have downloaded so you don’t pay for the minutes you are online on the network you only pay for what you use.
- calling and sending data is much faster, much more accurate and much more reliable than the old GSM networks.
- because you only pay for what you download you can just read web pages and take your time in reading them. Because you don’t pay for the time you are online but the data you download.
- because the network never gives more than 4 time-slots to the user, the factual speed of 170 Kbit/s will never actually be accomplished
- one of the rules is that calling always goes before data connection. So when the connection is really crowded for example on new years eve, the data connection will often fall away to make room for the calling people
Edge stands for Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution. And yeah from the name you could tell that the speed of this network has significantly increased over GPRS. The top speed lies around 384 Kbit/s but just as with GPRS that is never actually being accomplished. Usual speeds lie around 120-180 Kbit/s. EDGE makes it possible to load heavier web pages, send and receive e-mails and even attachments on the e-mails and very rarely you can even watch some low quality video on it.
EDGE also works on the 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz frequencies as GSM networks because they use the same network poles. The only thing that has changed is the wavelength in which the data packets are sent to the network. So it can include more waves and thus more data in the connection. It also makes it possible for 8 people up to a time to make a phone call, it doesn’t yet go at the same time but the transition from phone to phone is so tiny that you can’t notice it.
It also uses these time-slots but instead of using 4 which are not really fast it uses 8 at a time that’s why it can handle 8 people at a time. And the more slots you have the more bandwith and the faster your data is.
3G is the 3rd generation of standards for standards in mobile communication it is also called UMTS which stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunication System.
It’s data speeds are almost 3 times as much as the EDGE data speeds making it one of the fastest data connections around the world right now. With speeds at a maximum of 7.2 Mbp/s but just as with GPRS Those speeds are never really accomplished. The average speed lies inbetween 300 Kbits/s and 400 Kbits/s.
It was first developed in Japan and Japan gave away their 2 GHz network to use it. (GHz is a way of measuring the lengths of radiowaves the more GHz the tinier the waves and the more data you can send) When 3G oficially aired in Japan and shortly thereafter in the US speeds were around 144 Kbits/s when travelling fast, 384 Kbits/s when walking and 2 Mbits/s when standing still. 3G makes it possible to browse big websites, send and receive attachments in the mail, watch some good quality videos with some decent buffer speeds and you van use 3G networks as a GPS system. 3G networks often use “signal switching” which means the phone with the best signal quality get the fastest rates of speed when the phone if outranged by someone who is closer the phone gets a fast piece of traffic and it lets the phone handle that piece while giving it a slower connection, the network makes fast switches between all the phones on the antenna every 2 milliseconds so it is hardly noticeable.
3G networks took a while to catch on everywhere else in the world because it forced mobile operators to build new mobile antennas because the use whole other radio frequencies. But because of the manufacturing of brand new smartphones all with 3G capabilities mobile operatores had to build the new antennas.
3G has two upgrades that fall under the 3G class, they are HSDPA and HSUPA
HSDPA or Highspeed Downlink Packet Acces if the follower of UMTS or 3G therefore it is called 3.5G. It’s speeds are almost 8 times as high as UMTS and are about 7.2 Mbits/s these speeds are around 10% of a cabled connection on your computer at home. Your Android phone is probably displaying a 3G sign in the status bar right now because it is not doing anything. But if you are starting to use the internet the bar will display a big H meaning you are connected to an HSDPA network and are downloading at around those speeds.
HSUPA means High Speed Uplink Packet Acces and it follows HSDPA making it 3.75G. It is not very different from HSDPA apart from using a shorter time transmition interval. Earlier I said 3G uses signal switching to switch between phones on the network which it does in 2 milliseconds, with the faster switching it does it in 1.5 milliseconds making the responsiveness faster because it can upload the data it has to send about the link you clicked faster. This technique was first found in Nokia phones and later perfected in other phones.
HSDPA/HSUPA vs. normal cable speed
HSPA+ is a short name for Evolved High Speed Packet Acces. It is one of the fastest mobile networks in this list and has speeds comparable to 4G LTE but there are just those little things that make it not as good as 4G LTE, for one the speed is not the same. It can be as fast as 4G but usually it is not. And 4G has the possibility of being faster than HSPA+ on it’s highest speed. HSPA+ has possible data rates of up to 168 Mbit/s downloading and 22 Mbit/s uploading. But as all of the other networks is never capable of achieving this in real life. This network is one of the first that could make use of a direct IP connection, which means it usually connects to the carrier network directly via an ethernet cable. This makes internet speeds much faster and much cheaper to use.
Nokia, Siemens and Qualcomm have together developed a way of better mobile networking through this connection. It is called multiflow and means that you can make use of 2 networks poles in the area. For example, if you have a really bad connection on the edge of the range of the network pole and you are close to the range of another network pole, instead of getting a very bad connection and speed from 1 pole you can get 2 dataflows from the 2 poles you are closest to. This ensures a fast and good connection on many more places.
4G LTE is the fourth generation Long Term Evolution network. 4G LTE is the succesor of 3G and it is thus a lot faster in data speeds. It is so fast you could game, stream HD TV or even watch a 3D movie streaming this all through 4G LTE. 4G is not only used for mobile phones but it can even be used for laptops or tv’s.
In march 2008 specific rules have been made for what can be called a 4G network and what now. A 4G network has to offer a 100 Mbit/s data rate for people who are travelling slowly, walking or standing stil land a 1 Gbit/s data rate for people who are travelling fast, by car of by train. The 1 Gbit/s rate is just like all the others very rare and just a peak speed, almost unachievable.
LTE Advanced has also recently been released in the U.S.A. and is specifically made to surpass the requirements an LTE network has to offer. It has not been made to offer new technology but it is made to be an upgrade to 4G LTE. It’s data speeds are somewhat faster than the normal 4G ones, offering 1.5 Gbit/s at maximum for travelling fast, and 500 Mbits/s for travelling by foot or standing still. It should be noted that 4G LTE has not been released in most countries and is still in development in some countries. There are only a few countries that have 4G LTE at the moment.
The red countries have 4G in use already
The blue countries have 4G networks planned to be released soon
The grey countries have 4G trial systems, so not for commercial use. Still in testing or alpha stage
Wi-Fi is a popular technology that makes it possible to get on computer networks using your phone and having almost the same data speeds as your computer has.
It has been specified as being a Wireless Local Area Network. Saying you can go on the internet wirelessly in a certain area. There are many devices which use Wi-Fi, laptops, game consoles, phones tablets and even tv’s. These all connect to the same acces point or hotspot. Such a hotspot has a range of about 20 meters indoors and 30 meters outdoors. (when you buy a standard hotspot, not one of those fancy and expensive ones).
To ensure your Wi-Fi won’t get used by strangers the Wi-Fi Alliance team has made a password protection mode called WEP or Wired Equivalent Privacy, this proved to be easily hacked. Upon which the Wi-Fi Alliance created WPA and WPA2 security which were much harder to crack and contained much more numbers. Later on they also created WPS or Wi-Fi Protected Setup, this was made so it would be easier for less tech savvy people to easily secure their networks and avoid having to enter extremely long passwords every time. This security had one flaw however, a skilled hacker could easily crack the passwords in a few hours.
The name Wi-Fi doesn’t really have any meaning. It is based of the word Hi-Fi what which means High Fidelity and is commonly used to indicate high quality sound systems.
Also a fun fact is that the world record for furthest Wi-Fi range goes to Ermanno Pietrosemoli from Venezuela who transferred data at 3 Mbit/s over 420 km.
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