Evolution to Wireless 3G Networks


First generation wireless referred to analog cellular transmission, which became popular in North America throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Second generation wireless refers to the current, most common forms of digital cellular and personal communications services (PCS) primarily voice transmission technologies that utilize digital encoding and provide some low-speed, circuitswitched data for such handheld applications as phone-based email, news and stock services, and short message service (SMS). By contrast, 3G wireless is a form of sophisticated broadband transmission that in addition to handling vast amounts of voice capacity, is optimized for transmission of data and multimedia.

Development of third generation wireless air interfaces and switches has been going on intensively in universities, research centers, and wireless manufacturer settings in Europe, Japan and North America since the early 1990s. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released its first studies on 3G in 1994. By 1996, however, most wireless infrastructure providers recognized the need for a more robust network technology that could surpass the “second-generation” mobility concept of PCS.

Interim data strategies, sometimes known as 2.5G services have since been devised to accommodate wireless users’ needs for higher speed data and image transmissions over currently available spectrum. Among these 2.5G networks which are being deployed on a selective basis are GPRS (General Packet Radio Standard, an evolution of GSM technology which transmits data up to 115 Kbps) and EDGE — Enhanced Data Rate for Global Evolution, a TDMA evolution which delivers 384 Kbps for mobile applications.


In the CDMA world, a data-only 2.5G standard, known as HDR (High Data Rate), will deliver as much as 1.4 Mbps to wireless data customers in fixed mode. Concurrently, 1XRTT, an advanced version of IS-95 for mobile users, delivers transmission speeds up to 144 Kbps and is the first step in a perceived evolution to fullblown, multimedia-capable 3G networks.

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