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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 5G service today. Network providers like Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well as the big telecom-dependent businesses such as Google, Amazon, Nokia, CISCO and TCS are gearing up for it. Here’s the story of how generation changes happened quickly in telecom. 

In the 1980s, mobile phones with long antenna were seen. The speed of data transfer was 2.4 kb/second in these 1G phones. Our needs were limited and that speed seemed to be enough for that time. 

Along with voice, text messages could also be sent on 2G phones. At that time, Rs 3 was charged to send each text message. The number of words was capped. At that time, photos could be sent. 2G speed was a maximum of 100 kbps. 2G took mobiles to everyone and made them attractive. 

In the next generation, 3G, the amount of information that could be transferred per second reached Mega Bytes from kilobytes. Mobile phones that came in 2003-04 became multimedia using 3G. Up to 2 MB could be transmitted per second. 

Internet data speed increased with 3G. Video calling became a reality. But YouTube videos were still out of the purview of mobile phones, largely. Certain advancements such as HHPA+ and HHSPA Turbo helped to boost speeds up to 42 MB per second. 

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By 2009, as 3G speeds increased, the infrastructure for more voluminous transfer instantaneously was being laid. At this time, mobile phones became smart phones. The touchscreen and controls were incorporated. 4G LTE and 4G VoLTE gave many services. The maximum amount of information that could be transferred was 100 MB per second. 

5G promises a leap. The speed will be in GB per second. So we are talking a ten times increase. The maximum information transferred that could be transferred per second would be in the range of 20 GB per second. That is 200 times current maximum speeds. Nearly a million devices could be linked in one kilometer area.

Self-driving cars, telesurgery would become feasible. Medical students can virtually learn surgery. Medical diagnostics will be very accurate and quick. Weather prediction will improve by leaps. In other words, the possibility of humongous amounts of information being transferred will open up new vistas. AI will become commonplace. 

Let’s say I started a fruit juice business in the 1980s. I bought an expensive mobile phone at that time to grow the business, take verbal orders on phone and deliver. I was at 1G then. 

With 5G, AI will become far more ubiquitous. Production processes will simplify. There will be a lot more information and intel on customer preferences, demand and supply

When the business grew and customers wanted more service, I switched to 2G. Now customers could just send an SMS or MMS or do quick calling. I got a 2G phone to those receiving orders and arranging delivery. 

As competition grew, getting customers became difficult. But they were available in numbers. People stopped making fruit juice at home and were slowly buying most of it from shops. Most customers had phones now. By 2004, they became 3G. I could easily send photos of my products and customers could choose. 

Then 4G happened and with that we entered the digital age. Smart phones started. I got an app made a little later for my business. Later, food delivery services started and I didn’t need to employ delivery people separately. They handled orders, payment and delivery. There was considerable savings as a result. There was more business coming at fewer costs. 

With 5G, AI will become far more ubiquitous. Production processes will simplify. There will be a lot more information and intel on customer preferences, demand and supply. It’s possible that I may have to sell off my business to a bigger company that can deploy 5G most effectively. 


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