IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

From 1G to 5G: How innovations in cellular have shaped our lives

By Contributor
Fri 25 Sep 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by: Gigamon CTO Shehzad Merchant.

Each generation of cellular networks has fundamentally changed our world. 1G brought us the brick phone utilising analogue technology in the ‘80s. For the first time, phones became truly mobile, albeit being bulky and expensive, and limited to voice features.

In the ‘90s, 2G brought us digital handsets with SMS and text messaging, which made communication on-the-go possible. Phone sizes and prices shrank, and adoption grew, although mostly for business and professional use.

In the early 2000s, 3G brought us online with mobile broadband integrating voice, video and data. 3G made it popular for not just adults but also teens, to use cell phones, driving mass adoption.

The decade from 2010 to 2020 has been characterised by the use of 4G, which significantly increased the speed and capacity of cellular networks. It gave rise to an entirely new generation of applications, which fundamentally changed how we do business and communicate.

The rise of ride-sharing services, live-streaming video, and a host of other applications were all possible due to 4G. Entire industries such as the gig economy were created as a result of 4G. During the pandemic this year, 4G has made remote learning and telemedicine a reality.

As we look to the present decade from 2020 onwards, 5G will be at the forefront. The race for 5G is not about merely deploying new infrastructure, but getting the first-mover advantage in who can build and take the leadership role in the host of new applications and services that 5G will enable.

It is this race that has captured the minds of all – from nation-states to entrepreneurs.

5G brings with it significant changes. It provides improvements in many ways – up to 10x faster than 4G, up to 10 times lower latency than 4G, up to 100 times more devices than 4G, and up to 90% lower energy consumption compared to 4G.

Here are the new technologies that will be required to work in tandem with 5G for rollout to be successful:


This is an entirely new band of spectrum being opened up for 5G – from 6GHz all the way up to 300GHz. It is a higher frequency spectrum that can drive higher capacity as well as higher bandwidth. 

Initially, only specific bands within this spectrum will be utilised, in conjunction with lower and mid-frequency bands from 600MHz to 3GHz.

Massive MIMO

MIMO stands for multiple input, multiple output and refers to the antenna technology that is utilised to drive better coverage. 

The higher frequency bands provide an advantage in that they require smaller antennas. This makes it feasible to pack more antennas on a base station, which in turn drives much higher capacity. 5G will be able to pack around 256 antennas per base station, significantly higher than the dozen or so with 4G.

Small cells and beamforming

Higher frequencies lead to higher propagation loss. With the higher density of MIMO antennas, there can also be increased signal interference. And so the goal in 5G is to develop many smaller cells that would then be served by the high-density MIMO antennas. 

The smaller cell size addresses the issues around propagation loss. At the same time, beamforming technology allows the 5G signals to minimise interference by selectively targetting devices.

Network slicing

5G will support network slicing, which is the ability to carve off portions of the 5G network for specific use cases. For example, carving off a slice for first responders, or carving off slices for ultra-low latency applications such as autonomous driving.

Mobile edge computing

This is the key to reducing end-to-end latency for applications. With mobile edge computing, applications can run in data centers closer to the 5G network, thereby significantly reducing the end-to-end latency of applications.

Control and user plane separation (CUPS)

By separating the user data from the control plane processing, user plane traffic can be switched locally without having to backhaul traffic, thereby lowering latency and increasing throughput.

The journey to 5G will require careful planning both on the network operator side and the companies leveraging and building applications over a 5G infrastructure.

Ensuring visibility into the applications and the underlying network traffic will be vital in determining whether SLAs are being met for critical application needs that depend on aspects such as guaranteed latency, among others. Planning for this upfront will help speed up the journey and reduce delays in deploying both the infrastructure and the applications. 

As with each generation of cellular technology, 5G deployment and adoption will occur over an extended period, perhaps several years. But with it will come an entirely new breed of applications and services that can take advantage of the lower latency, higher speeds and additional 5G capabilities.

Yes, we will be able to download movies much faster - it may take only 5-10 seconds for a full HD movie download. But that is a very limiting way to think about 5G. New applications, like fully autonomous driving, drone-based emergency response, customised multi-dimensional content-rich news delivery, and many more advancements, become possible with 5G.

As these new applications start taking root, many of the traditional paradigms and businesses may begin seeing disruption. Organisations should look to the future in terms of disruption rather than incrementalism when thinking of how to take advantage of these aspects of 5G.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
Global investment in data centers more than doubled in 2021
DLA Piper's latest global survey finds the total investment in data center infrastructure worldwide rose from USD $24.4 billion in 2020 to USD $53.8 billion in 2021.
Story image
Internet of Things
Global 5G subscriptions to top one billion by the end of 2022
Global 5G subscriptions are predicted to pass the one billion milestone by the end of 2022, according to a new report.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
DigiCert acquires DNS Made Easy and affiliated brands
Greg Clark comments, says, "This combination enhances the security of certificate validation and enables the automation of future validations."
Story image
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Cloudflare outage in 19 data centers worldwide due to own error
Cloudflare says its outage for 19 of its data centers yesterday was because of a change in a long-running project to increase resilience in its busiest locations.
Story image
Volpara, Microsoft project to detect cardiovascular issues
Volpara Health Technologies is working with Microsoft on a research and development project to speed up creating a product that detects and quantifies breast arterial calcifications (BACs).
Story image
Greater API usage raises concerns for protection - report
Radware has released its 2022 State of API Security report, which shows a rise in APIs, with 92% of the organisations surveyed significantly or somewhat increasing their usage.
Story image
Microsoft launches app for modern selling experience
The new release is designed to enhance CRM systems with customer engagement data from Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.
Story image
How a single mandate changed software development forever
There’s conjecture about exactly when it was issued and by whom, but a mandate made twenty years ago is continuing to shape the software development process today.
Story image
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
The rise of digital gifting in the workplace
The name itself does most of the explaining; it’s a gift you receive virtually. But a misconception about digital gifts is that they need to be redeemed virtually as well. 
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Ready for anything with the PagerDuty Operations Cloud
In a world of digital everything, teams face increasing complexity. Ever-growing dependencies across systems and processes put customer and employee experience, not to mention revenue, at risk.
Story image
Varonis strengthens security capabilities for AWS and S3
Varonis has strengthened and expanded its cloud and security capabilities, with a critical aim of improving safety and boosting data visibility in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Story image
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Cyclone selected as NZ MOE software licensing partner
Following a recent Request for Proposal (RFP), Christchurch-based company Cyclone Computer Company Ltd (Cyclone) has been selected as The Ministry of Education’s software licensing partner.
Story image
Employers look to hire inexperienced coders due to skills shortage
"Even inexperienced workers without prior qualifications or experience had managed to pivot to new roles in coding as long as they are willing to upskill."
Story image
Workday winning on culture and family focus
This family-first approach sees all employees receive access to family-wide private healthcare cover, as well as income protection and life insurance policies.
Story image
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Market growth
Salesforce unveils new offerings for consumer goods companies
Salesforce has announced new products for consumer goods companies to help brands navigate increasing market complexity more easily.
Story image
Canstar finds Flick Electric NZ’s favourite provider
Canstar’s annual research to find New Zealand’s favourite electricity provider reveals Flick Electric has come out on top.
Story image
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
10 Minute IT Jams
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Rimini Street
Today we welcome back Daniel Benad, who is the GVP & regional GM for Oceania at Rimini Street.
Story image
Forrester names Talend Leader in enterprise data fabric
Forrester has named Talend a leader among enterprise data fabric providers in the Forrester Wave: Enterprise Data Fabric, Q2 2022 report.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Corpay partners with supply chain platform PracBiz Exchange
Corpay's new partnership with PracBiz’s allows more than 4000 B2B suppliers on the latter's platform to use Corpay's global payments services.
Story image
VMware wins Google Cloud partner award for infrastructure modernisation
The cloud computing and virtualisation company was recognised for its achievements as part of the Google Cloud ecosystem.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom puts electronics sector on notice over resale price maintenance
The Commerce Commission has concluded an investigation into allegations that television manufacturers were engaging in illegal resale price maintenance.
Story image
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
N4L, Spark, Chorus partner for Hyperfibre school upgrade
Networks for Learning (N4L) has partnered with Spark and Chorus to upgrade Wellington College to Hyperfibre, fostering stronger outcomes for students and teachers.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Disaster Recovery
Eaton provides business continuity with disaster avoidance application
Many SMBs often struggle with problems relating to UPS and IT assets due to the sheer amount of time and resources required to run effectively. 
Story image
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.