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What's Up With All the G's?

Have you heard? There’s a new G coming to town—5G. It’s all the rage in 2020. Chances are you’ve heard of 3G and 4G, but what about the long lost 1G and 2G? And while we’re on the subject, what does the G even stand for?


No worries. Here at the OZone, we’ve got it covered just for you.


The G stands for the generation of wireless technology. Therefore, a 1G phone refers to first generation wireless technology for cellular networks. Since 1G was introduced in the early 1980s, a new wireless mobile telecommunications technology has been released on average every 10 years. Each generation has different speeds and features that are improvements on the previous generation. The next generation, 5G, is scheduled to launch this year, but the 1G that started it all went commercial 37 years ago.


1G: Voice Only


Cell phones began with 1G technology in the 1980s, which supported voice only calls. On October 13, 1983, America’s first commercial cellular network was launched by Ameritech in Chicago. The first hand-held mobile phone was invented by Martin Cooper and manufactured by Motorola ten years earlier, but wasn’t commercially available until the eighties.


Dr. Martin Cooper and Motorola DynaTAC

Most of the phones in the 1G era were heavy, weighing in at two and a half pounds, and expensive, for example, the Motorola DynaTac was priced at a hefty $3,995 ($10,000 today) and it costs 50 cents a minute to talk. For this reason, most phones at this time were a status symbol reserved for corporate and executive use.


A few of the limitations of 1G mobile technology were poor sound quality and battery life (18 minutes), limited coverage, and incompatibility between different 1G systems. Despite the limitations and expense, people were dazzled by these cordless wonders. And then 2G came on the scene.


Stay tuned for 2G’s story.


First and second generation mobile phones


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