From smart phones and augmented reality programs, to the concept of the “Internet of things”, the rise and development of digital technology has seen an exponential growth in the past decade or so. With computers doubling their capabilities every year, the possibilities for technological advancement, especially for the digital world, remain boundless.
However, with great technological advancement comes great technological support. Creating an Internet infrastructure that’s effectively connects people with emergent technologies is an ongoing project for scientists and engineers around the world. Aside from creating a superstructure that’s able to maintain a constantly advancing and evolving Internet, developing it simultaneously across different geographical regions adds to the challenge.
Utilizing the fullest potential of technology requires the sending and receiving of massive amounts of data across the world. Over the past decade, a concerted effort by industry leaders from the telecommunications industry has set in place standards and practices for mobile communications to facilitate the growth of the digital world.
Beginning in 1979 with the launch of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) network in Japan, automated cellular networks began springing up around the world to address the new mobile telecommunication needs of society. Nordic Mobile Telephone, which was launched in 1981 and deployed in four Scandinavian countries, was the first to offer international roaming. By 1983, the first wireless cellular technology network in the United States was launched by Chicago-based telecoms company Ameritech. This then-emerging technology was retroactively dubbed 1G, or first generation. 1G networks relied heavily on analogy signals to transmit data across entire cities and countries.
By the mid 90’s, 1G was replaced by the 2G network. The 2G network offered multiple benefits over 1G such as using digital signals to encrypt voice conversations, and introducing mobile data services, giving birth to SMS texting and Multimedia Messaging Services or MMS.
The rapid advancement of technology in the 2000’s gave birth to 3G and the current 4G networks. This unprecedented growth required standardization of signals and transmission practices worldwide. Addressing these concerns, a group of mobile telecommunications engineers, operators, and research institutions founded the Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Alliance in 2006.
Acting as a standardisation organisation, the NGMN Alliance works to provide common solutions for rapidly evolving wireless network technologies. In the latter half of the 2000’s, the NGMN Alliance evaluated and deployed mobile communications technologies such as the 3g Long Term Evolution (LTE) network and the Systems Architecture Evolution (SAE). The application of LTE/SAE technology to mobile communications facilitated the growth of 3G into 4G, expanding the capabilities of mobile phones with greater speeds and the new function of accessing mobile broadband signals.
5G and Beyond
The NGMN Alliance is currently researching 5G networks, working tirelessly to not only create technology that will enable the evolution of 4G, but also to create and maintain standards and practices in the operation of future 5G networks.
By the beginning of the 2020’s, the NGMN Alliance hopes to develop and deploy 5G across the world, with predicted speeds of tens of MB’s per user, and reduced latency as compared to the previous LTE, not to mention better coverage and signal efficiency, transferring data faster and with more reliability.
With the exponential growth of technology and a dedicated team of scientists and engineers and operators, 5G networks could very well arrive earlier than predicted.