The mobile communications industry has evolved in three stages:
Three generations of mobile phones have emerged so far, each successive generation more reliable and flexible than the last:
- Analog: You could only easily use analogue cellular to make voice calls, and typically only in any one country.
- Digital mobile phone systems added fax, data and messaging capabilities as well as voice telephone service in many countries.
- Multimedia services add high speed data transfer to mobile devices, allowing new video, audio and other applications through mobile phones- allowing music and television and the Internet to be accessed through a mobile terminal.
With each new generation of technology, the services which can de deployed on them becomes more and more wide ranging and truly limited only by imagination. We are reaching that stage with 3G.
During the first and second generations different regions of the world pursued different mobile phone standards, but are converging to a common standard for mobile multimedia called Third Generation (3G) that is based on CDMA technology. Europe pursued NMT and TACS for analog and GSM for digital, North America pursued AMPS for analog and a mix of TDMA, CDMA and GSM for digital. 3G will bring these incompatible standards together, and the aim of this paper is to discuss the optimal migration path for mobile network operators to get from their existing 2G digital systems to the 3G world.
The Third Generation of mobile communications systems will soon by implemented. Following on the heals of analog and digital technology, the Third Generation will be digital mobile multimedia offering broadband mobile communications with voice, video, graphics, audio and other information. This transition is shown in Table 1 below:
|First||Analog||1980s||Voice centric, multiple standards (NMT, TACS etc.)|
|Second||Digital||1990s||Voice centric, multiple standards (GSM, CDMA, TDMA)|
|2.5||Higher Rate Data||Late 1990s||Introduction of new higher speed data services to bridge the gap between the second and Third Generation, including services such as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution (EDGE)|
|Third||Digital Multimedia||2010s||Voice and data centric, single standard with multiple modes|