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Mobile telecommunications are vital to many businesses and individuals in the modern world today. Statisticians estimate that nearly 94% of the Australian adult community own a mobile phone. Mobile telecommunication devices are primarily used to communicate with others, regardless of their physical location, via speech and text messaging. In addition, these devices offer applications, access to the internet, connectivity options such as Bluetooth and WIFI, multimedia players, video cameras and location services such as GPS (Global Positioning System). (Sam Wallis, 2007) (Wikipedia.org, 2012)

 

Mobile communication standards, such as the 2G, 3G and 4G, have been set in place by various organisations so that service operators and users are aware of the security, compatibility and specifications of the network that their devices operate on. (Wikipedia.org, 2012)

 

The second-generation of mobile telecommunications technology (2G) provides many benefits over its predecessor. Digitally encrypted phone conversations, a more efficient and stable network, and the introduction of data services such as text messaging, internet access and use of the SIM card fabricate the benefits of the 2G standard. (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

Telstra introduced a digital network in 1993 called GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication), which operated on the 900MHz spectrum. This network was later operated on the 1800MHz band. Telstra’s 2G GSM network relies on TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) technology to divide the RF (radio frequency) spectrum among multiple users. The spectrum is divided into consecutive time slices which allow users in the channel to send and receive signals. Only one user can access the channel at any given time. (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

Another digital network, cdmaOne (or IS-95), is a 2G standard that uses CDMA (a multiple access scheme for digital radio) and was provided by Qualcomm. This network operates on a lower frequency band of 800MHz. CDMA is the technology utilised by cdmaOne to divide the RF spectrum among users. A spread spectrum technique is used to spread voice data over a very wide channel where a receiver undoes the randomisation to collect bits together and produce audible sounds. (Chris Ziegler, 2011)

 

Edge (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), introduced in Australia on the bolt-on protocol shortly after 2001, offered improvements over GPRS based networks and offered downlink speeds of 237kbps. (Wikipedia.org, 2012)

 

The 3G network was introduced in Australia by Three Mobile and Telstra in 2005 and operates on the 2100MHz frequency band. Originally servicing major metropolitan areas, the network now covers 50% of the Australian population. (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

UTMS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) technology is utilised by the 3G network to combine aspects of the 2G network with new technology and protocols to deliver faster data rates. UTMS relies on W-CDMA (Wideband CDMA) technology which is similar to CDMA technology, where the RF spectrum is divided among users. W-CDMA increases the frequency band of CDMA to 5MHz and improves signal transmission, especially at lower wattages. (Chris Ziegler, 2011) (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

A protocol called HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), which is a combination of HSDPA (downlink) and HSUPA (uplink) protocols, is used by UMTS to improve the performance of 3G networks utilising the W-CDMA protocols. HSPA+ is a further developed standard, released in 2008, which allows download speeds of up to 168 Mbit/s. (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

CDMA2000 is the newer standard of mobile technology which runs on 3G networks. It is backwards compatible with its previous 2G iteration, cdmaOne (IS-95). CDMA 2000 is trademarked by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA-USA) and relies on technology such as EV-DO to improve downlink speeds to be as high as 153 kbps. (Chris Ziegler, 2011)

 

Telstra’s Next-G network, launched in 2006, revolutionised 3G networks in Australia. The network, operated on the 850Mhz spectrum, provided more network towers and offered services to 99% of Australian residents. An upgrade to the Telstra network in 2008 utilised HSPA+ technology and allowed users to reach downlink speeds of up to 42Mbps (5.25 MB/s), a speed theoretically faster than most high speed home internet services. (Telco Antennas, 2010-2012)

 

The Telstra 4G network operates using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology delivers the fastest speeds possible today. This network will operate in dual mode with LTE/HSPA+ on the 1800MHz and 850Mhz spectrum bands to offer downlink speeds of up to 2Mbps to 40Mbps when used with a USB dongle, a major improvement from 3G networks. (Telstra, 2012)

 

Generation

Speed

Technology

Features

2G

14.4 kbps

GSM, cdmaOne

  • Users on single channel
  • Phones digitised
  • Allows communication and data services (Internet, SMS)

3G

Up to 14.4 Mbps

UMTS/HSPA, HSPA+, CDMA200, W-CDMA, EDGE, Next G

  • Amazing high speeds
  • Improved efficiency
  • Better for video calling/heavy data usage

4G

Up to 42Mbps

LTE, HSPS+

  • Fastest possible speeds
  • HD streaming and more!

 

Figure 1: Table summarising speed, technology and features of common standards in Australia.

It is evident from the table above that telecommunications standards have improved over the years and Australia has implemented these technologies to provide users with fast, reliable services covering roughly 99% of residential areas. There is no doubt that mobile telecommunication standards will continue to develop as new advancements are made to meet the demands of the Australian community.

 

Reference List

1.      Sam Wallis. (2007). Australians hooked on mobile phones: research [ONLINE] Available at: <http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2007/s1977571.htm> [Accessed 24 June 2012].

2.      Wikipedia.org. (2012). Mobile Telephony [ONLINE] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_telephony> [Accessed 24 June 2012].

3.      Telco Antennas. (2010-2012). 2G, 3G, Next-G, 4G – What’s the difference? [ONLINE] Available at: <http://telcoantennas.com.au/site/guide-to-mobile-networks> [Accessed 4 August 2012].

4.      Chris Ziegler. (2011). 2G, 3G, 4G, and everything in between: an Engadget wireless primer [ONLINE] Available at: <http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/17/2g-3g-4g-and-everything-in-between-an-engadget-wireless-prim/> [Accessed 4 August 2012].

5.      Telstra (2012). 4G (LTE) [ONLINE] Available at: <http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/coverage-networks/network-information/4g/> [Accessed 7 August 2012].

   

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