From Digi: What is 5G? Part 1--Evolution and the Next Generation

Oct 18, 2019

Welcome to our conversation series on 5G. 5G is the next generation network technology, promising exponentially higher bandwidth along with lower latency to support the vast range of consumer and commercial applications in the Internet of Things (IoT). For those developing data-intensive applications, it’s important to know when and how 5G will be deployed.

In this post, Scott Nelson, Digi VP of Product, again interviews Harald Remmert, Digi Director of Engineering. The “What is 5G?” topic grew into two related conversations. This post, Part 1, covers the evolution of the network generations leading up to 5G. Part 2 covers the adoption of 5G in consumer markets and the IoT.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the first blog in our 5G series, “Venturing Into the Fog of 5G.


What is 5G and How Did the “Gs” Evolve?

Scott: In this conversation we review past and present technologies that led up to where we are today and where the market is heading with 5G networks. Cellular technology continues to evolve and move toward full adoption of 5G, but this will take some time as the network build-out is a lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process.

At Digi International we are in the business of developing the supporting technologies for the commercial IoT and Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, which moves on a separate mission from the consumer market. My conversation with Harald reflects upon how 5G will be used in and develop with those separate paths.

Start at the Beginning – What was the First “G”?

Scott: So, Harald, today a lot of people are asking the question: What is 5G? Let’s talk through 5G in the G context. Maybe you could start at the beginning and run us through all the way to 5G so we understand what it is.

Harald: Sure. So, it started all with the first generation, 1G. This was back in the ’80s, with analog technology and moving on to 2G, which is the first digital GSM technology, also CDMA, 1xRTT. So, two competing technologies at the time, which in some areas of the world are still around.

Scott: Can you spell out acronyms like GSM and CDMA for readers?

Harald: Yes. GSM stands for Global System for Mobile, and CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access, which is a competing cell phone technology.

Scott: AT&T went GSM and Verizon went CDMA, right?

Harald: Right, most of the cellular world went the GSM fourte. Verizon and Sprint went with CDMA.

Scott: And Qualcomm owned CDMA, did they not?

Harald: That’s correct. Not to be confused with Wide CDMA or WCDMA, which is the technology that then was later used in 3G, and that was used jointly by pretty much all parties.

Scott: All parties? So, we’re at 2G and then…

Harald: Yes, 2G. And initially, 1G and 2G were primarily driven by handsets. So, being able to communicate over phones. 2G also offered data communication at very low speeds, but that was more for the enthusiast at the time.

Scott: Was texting first possible in 2G?

Harald: That is correct, and then also very slow data communications as well – 9600 baud, so very, very low speed.






Looking to integrate Digi products with your design? Our Applications Engineers offer free design and technical help for your latest designs. Contact us today!



Symmetry Electronics Logo


Why partner with Symmetry Electronics? Symmetry's technical staff is specially trained by our suppliers to provide a comprehensive level of technical support. Our in-house Applications Engineers provide free design services to help customers early in the design cycle, providing solutions to save them time, money and frustration. Contact Symmetry for more information.


Sign up to get tech news, product updates and store promos from Symmetry Electronics.


Choose Topic

Blog Archive


Previously Viewed Products