Wireless Networks: Past, Present, and Future

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Wireless, or cellular, networks have become one of the most common ways consumer’s access data in today’s world. This is quite interesting since the idea of having the ability to access the internet in any form, let alone having a consistent always on internet connection in the palm of your hand would have been something out of science fiction or James Bond not that long ago.
Looking at the history of wireless networks can show just how relatively new the technology is. The first two generations, 1G and 2G, created in the 1980s and used up to the late 1990’s, were primarily designed for voice communications with no real thought given to data. The introduction of 2.5G in the late 1990s allowed for data activities such as sending and receiving email and web browsing. It is the third and the current fourth generation, 3G and 4G, that consumers are most familiar with that ushered in today’s mobile data usage.
3G was introduced to the United States in 2003 “with minimum consistent Internet speeds of 144Kbps” (Segan, 2013, para 3) and are capable to get a data connection “anywhere from 400Kbps to more than ten times that” (Segan, 2013, para 3). This level of connectivity allowed consumers to connect to the internet at roughly 8 times the speed dial-up modems provided about a decade earlier, all in the palm of their hand. The first 4G networks began to appear around 2011 offering “networks that can handle download and upload speeds of up to 75 megabits per second (Mbps)”

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