Mobile communications simply explained – standards and frequencies

Have you ever used mobile data or a mobile broadband on your tablet or smartphone? The terms 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G are often used in this context. But what exactly do these abbreviations mean? Which frequencies do the individual mobile phone communications standards use? And what is the difference between them?

What do the abbreviations of the mobile communications standards mean?

The abbreviations 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G refer to the various mobile phone communications standards.Here stands the G for generation. The main difference between the individual mobile phone generations lies in the speed of data transmission, i.e. the exchange of information between mobile  phones and base stations.

To do this, modern cellular technology uses electromagnetic fields (EMF). To transfer information such as voice and data, specific frequencies are assigned to each mobile phone standard. Here is an overview of the currently available standards:

Table 1: Overview of the mobile phone systems operated in Germany (as of October 2019)

Mobile communications standards

Source: Mobile Communications Information Centre (DE)

A smartphone always chooses the best possible network. It’s worth noting that not every smartphone and every contract supports every mobile phone generation.

All mobile phone standards at a glance

  • 1G: A-Netz (1958), B-Netz (1972) and C-Netz (1986)
  • 2G: GSM (1992)
  • 5G: GPRS (2001)
  • 75G: EDGE (2006)
  • 3G: UMTS (2004)
  • 5G: HSPA (2006)
  • 9G: LTE (2010)
  • 4G: LTE+ (2014)
  • 5G (2020)

2G (GSM)

  • Frequencies
    • from 890 to 915 MHz and from 935 to 960 MHz (GSM 900)
    • from 1.710 to 1.785 and from 1.805 to 1.880 MHz (GSM 1800)
  • Speed

Data is transmitted via GPRS with a maximum of 53.6 kbit / s or via Edge (E) with up to 220 kbit / s. This is very slow by today’s standards. Therefore, 2G is mainly used for phone calls and short messages. Loading complex websites or videos takes a very long time.

3G (UMTS)

  • Frequencies
    • from 1.920 to 1.980 MHz
    • from 2.110 to 2.170 MHz
  • Speed

3G speeds of up to 384 kbit/s can be achieved. HSDPA followed in 2006, later HSDPA +, also known as 3.5G. This enables transmissions of up to 7.2 Mbit/s and 42 Mbit/s.

4G (LTE)

  • Frequencies
    • originally: 800 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2 GHz and 2.6 GHz
    • since 2015: frequencies in the 700 MHz range
    • since 2019: another 41 frequency blocks from the 2 & 3.6 GHz ranges
  • Speed

With 4G, a download speed of 1,000 Mbit/s is possible. This means that very large amounts of data can be downloaded within seconds. However, you practically only have one connection with around 50 Mbit/s available. This ​​increases from year to year as the network continues to expand in Germany.

5G

  • Frequencies
    • Low 5G bands: long-wave signals, such as the previously unused 700 MHz range. These frequencies have good propagation properties. This means that it can be used for supplying rural areas, for instance.
    • High 5G bands: in the spectrum from 3.4 to 3.8 GHz. The range decreases with higher frequency. In return, this range offers more bandwidth and  higher data transmission rate. Primarily, this is planned to be used for 5G.
    • Very high 5G bands: millimeter waves in the range from 6 to 26/28 GHz. The spread of this range is limited to a few 100 meters. Mobile phone use of these frequency ranges is currently not available in Germany and will be reserved for industry.
  • Speed

Speeds of up to 10 GBit/s are promised, i.e. up to 20 times faster than 4G. At least a 100% increase in speed should be achievable.

EMF PROTECTION FOR YOUR OFFICE
Free: Checklist for EMF protection in your workplace

Electrosmog can often trigger health related problems, such as headaches and poor concentration.

What you’ll discover:

  • What is electrosmog and why it is so harmful to health;
  • How to mitigate EMF exposure in your workplace;
  • Easy and effective protective measures to promote wellbeing of every employee in your workplace.

What is different about 5G mobile communications standards?

The latest standards use higher frequencies with a shorter range. This means that it needs a significantly larger number of antenna systems installed. To this end, not only new radio towers, but also mini-transmitters in cities, which are installed much closer to the users.

5G systems work with what is known as beamforming. Here the emissions from several antennas are bundled and directed towards the receiver. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) sees a great need for research into the health effects of 5G. The BfS recommends a prudent 5G expansion. According to them, end consumers should also expose themselves to as little radiation as possible when using their mobile phones.

Frequencies in mobile communications

Legal basis

The assignment of frequencies is a central task of the Federal Network Agency. The necessary legal framework for the allocation of frequencies is set in Section 55 of the TKG (Telecommunications Act).

Distribution of the frequency spectrum to leading mobile communications companies

Mobile communications frequencies

Frequency spectrum in the regions 700MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.5 GHz, 1.8 GHz, 2GHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz

Source: Federal Network Agency (DE)

The frequency ranges have been used increasingly flexibly for the respective mobile communications standards in recent years. Since a mobile radio base station can only handle a limited number of connections, the radio networks are being expanded further. The network is expanded by dividing an existing radio cell into several small new cells.

As the frequencies are limited, bands from the 2G or 3G networks that are no longer needed are made available to be used by the 4G or 5G and reassigned. This is decided by the respective network operator.

Further information on frequencies in mobile communications

Would you like to find out more about the topic of the allocation and use of frequencies? To address this in more depth, the Federal Network Agency in Germany has published a comprehensive Frequency allocation table (as of October 2019) for the range from 0 kHz to 3,000 GHz on their website in German. We suggest that you look for ‘Frequency allocation table 0 – 3,000 GHz’ published by the relevant agency in your country.

Do you want to protect yourself from EMFs?

Take your EMF protection into your own hands! To help you with this, we develop exclusive products to serve you both for on the go and for at home or in the office. Our Qi technology is built into all of our Qi devices.

Benefits of Qi technology:

  • use modern technology such as wifi, cellular network & Bluetooth without hesitation;
  • German technology & production;
  • non electric;
  • simple application;
  • free regeneration;
  • every year, around 2,500 customers worldwide trust Waveguard with their EMF protection.

Do you have any questions about your personal EMF protection? We are here to help.

Did you like this article? Follow the latest news on the subject of electrosmog in our Waveguard blog.

Sources

EMF PROTECTION FOR YOUR OFFICE
Free: Checklist for EMF protection in your workplace

Electrosmog can often trigger health related problems, such as headaches and poor concentration.

What you’ll discover:

  • What is electrosmog and why it is so harmful to health;
  • How to mitigate EMF exposure in your workplace;
  • Easy and effective protective measures to promote wellbeing of every employee in your workplace.

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest
Anne Usadel

Anne Usadel

Anne Usadel M.A. studied literature and linguistics. Since then, she has worked as a freelance editor in the fields of art, culture and health. She has been researching the topic of electrosmog for Waveguard since 2015.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *