Cellphones, What Does That “G” Mean?

Zach Morris rocking a 2G Cell Phone at Bay Side High

In today’s fast paced high tech world, many users are upgrading to wireless devices that have email, internet and even wireless television. You know them as 3G or 4G mobile devices. But what does this mean? What can I do with them and how can this be a tool to help me.

The ‘G’ in 3 and 4G devices stands for the Generation that the device was produced under. 3G equals 3rd Generation, 4G stands for 4th generation and so on. Each generation, like in humans has different characteristics that define it.

Generation ‘0’ dates back to the 1950’s with the first mobile phone, a radio phone that operated on open band radio waves (similar to a CB) and was used up through the late 1980’s. 1G was introduced in the 1980’s and incuded the official first line of Cellular Analog Telephones.  2G first hit the market in 1991 and was an innovative design. 2G phones were the first digitally capable phones which allowed them to talk on digitally encrypted phone waves and send the first SMS text messages.

In 2001, 3G telecommunications were first introduced in Europe, Japan and China and not long after were brought to the U.S. Like a genius child, 3G capabilities have expanded by leaps and bounds, each one better than the last. Recently many companies like Verizon, Motorola, Google and Apple are releasing devices with ‘4G’ capabilities.

Currently no device meets criteria to be an official 4G device and are categorized as 4G candidates. Meaning they are really close to being 4G which requires peak download speeds of  1 Mbit/s (Mega Bit per second) for high mobility communications (I.E. Planes Trains and Automobiles) and 1 Gbit/s (Giga Bit per second) for low mobility (sitting on your couch).

Your 3G device is a powerful tool. A perk to 3G devices is that many of them have mobile internet capabilities allowing you to check your email, browse the internet, and even do your homework.  The downside is many of these devices, iPhones, Droids, etc, require service plans for digital and download service that can be very pricy depending on how much you download on it. In the case of Apple’s famous iPod, particuarly the iPod Touch is a 3G device that even though it’s not a stand-alone device, it can connect to a wireless network and provide the same tools.

UWIT offers tutorials and instruction guides for how to setup many of your 3 and 4G devices to access your email and online utilities.

For Apple products
For Android products

UWIT also offers video setup tutorials. As always, phone support is available at 766-HELP and the operators are always willing to lend a hand with your computing needs.


David Little, Senior at UW - Architectural Engineering From Omaha, NE


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