Trip Down Tech Lane: Evolution of Cellular Technology

Evolution of cellular

 

 

To mark our 30 years in the tech sector, we’ve taken a trip down tech lane to look at three life- and business-changing technologies, considering how they have developed alongside the evolution of cellular!

 

 

 

 

There Once Was A World Without Internet

Evolution of cellular

It’s hard to believe there was a simpler time before the invention of the Internet, a time where people turned to books and each other for information and knowledge…

Although the origins of the Internet date back to the early 1960’s, we jump forward to 1989 when the World Wide Web was first proposed by computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, who completed the code along with the standards for HTML, HTTP and URLs in 1990. Shortly after, the very first web page was created, consisting of information of the World Wide Web project. By 1995, the term “internet” was becoming mainstream with the service now commonly used by consumers, and dial-up internet becoming one of the most popular early forms of internet access, mainly due to the lack of additional infrastructure needed and cheap running costs.

However, the exclusive use of the phone line, low speeds of 56Kbps and the irritable noise, meant dial-up was soon taken over by broadband and wireless internet. From the early 2000s, broadband was enabling users to experience significantly higher volumes of data being transferred at much faster speeds, without interfering with the existing phone lines or needing to be switched “on” or “off” or slowly “dialled-up” for a connection.

Alongside the development of fixed line services, the evolution of cellular technology has also led to this becoming a common form of connectivity for internet access. By the mid-2000s, 2G wireless connectivity was common place in industry, but still finding its feet amongst commercial users and early smart phones, as initial connections were even slower than dial-up. However, third and fourth generation connectivity (3G and 4G) enabled users to access internet speeds of 15Mbps by 2010. From 2010 to the present day, 4G has continued to evolve and its latest versions, such as LTE-Advanced Pro, have delivered massive improvements over the original LTE standards with download speeds now reaching 1200Mbps.

And of course, the next generation of wireless connectivity comes in the form of 5G. This much-anticipated development is predicted to push twice the amount of data through, compared to existing networks, while also increasing bandwidth efficiency and overall speed.

Accessing the Internet has become a business necessity today as organisations need to connect their people, locations and assets wherever they are – and cellular provides the perfect solution as it can connect almost anywhere. The investments made in LTE-A Pro also mean that cellular can meet and outperform fixed lines and so location should no longer be a limitation to any operational connectivity requirement. Westbase.io’s 4G LTE networking solutions are enterprise-grade meaning security and performance are paramount, offering highly flexible options to suit all requirements – from primary and failover connectivity for branches, to connecting remote IoT assets and vehicles, and providing instant, temporary connectivity for a whole range of requirements. To find out more, check out our “Solutions” pages.

 

Data Then and Data Now

Evolution of cellular

Since the dawn of computing, there has always been a need to securely store data that computers have amassed. Removable media throughout the years has had to evolve alongside computer systems, as the need for storing vast amounts of data has continually increased.

During the 1950s, and as recently as the 1980s, open-reel tapes and magnetic cartridges were the standard data storage solution for businesses – recording data magnetically via the thin metal strip on their 10 ½-inch reels. More developed 9-track tapes had the ability to store up to 175 MB per tape which was a huge amount of data at the time. However, mag-tapes eventually replaced the oversized and cumbersome magnetic tape drives during the 1980s, as these could now integrate with most commercial PCs.

Further development saw the creation of the all-too-familiar, Floppy Disk during the 1980s which only died out in the early 2000s. The 3 ½ inch Floppy Disk became popular due to its compact size and large disk space of 1.44MB, becoming the most dominant everyday storage solution for businesses and consumers.

But, just as the Floppy Disk was taking hold, a new player was creeping into our lives that made data storage and transfer easier and more flexible than ever before; the USB stick. By the year 2000, the USB Flash Drive (more commonly known as the USB stick), had crept into the market with impressive transfer speed rates and a reputation for being more durable and long-lasting compared to their Floppy Disk counterparts. Leaping forward to 2013 USB sticks could hold 1TB of data and had become the main method of data transfer and storage, as all modern computers, laptops and other devices had introduced the USB port into their hardware, making the USB stick extremely versatile.

Although the USB stick is still commonly used today, its appeal as a storage solution seems to have diminished as consumers and businesses turn to less tangible and more secure methods. Dramatically differing from its predecessors, the Cloud digitally stores data in logical “pools” which can virtually be accessed anywhere, anytime by users on any device, storing almost infinite amounts of data. With the continuous growth of IoT technology, the Cloud is one of the few storage solutions that can handle excessive loads of data at fast and reliable speeds.

As leading vendors have focused their development efforts in cloud solutions in recent years, the Cloud has also evolved beyond being a storage space for data and can now run software, infrastructure and many other services which previously required hardware. Within Westbase.io, the Cloud is hugely important to our vendors’ management approaches, and we only champion products which can be cloud managed as it offers so many financial and productivity benefits to customers managing cellular-connected networks. To find out more, take a look at our “Importance of Cloud Management” article.

 

What’s a Landline Phone?!

Evolution of cellular

Some of us may feel “disconnected” from the world when we’re without our mobile phone, as this little device has become such an important tool that we rely on day-to-day. So how on earth did people survive before the invention of the mobile phone?

One of the earliest “mobile phones” to be launched to the public was the Nokia Mobira Senator in 1982, which was marketed as a phone to use while driving – partly due to its bulky size and hefty weight of 9.8kg. During this time, mainly due to the enormous size and cost, mobile phones were still a rare technology – not to be fully accessible to consumers until the early 1990s when the size and usability of the mobile phone became more convenient. In 1997, early mobile phones had advanced to include features such as games, clocks, calendars, profile settings and of course the ability to send a simple SMS and make a call.

In order for a mobile phone to work though, it needs to be connected to a network. In the early 1990s the first digital cellular network, 2G (second generation) was developed using digital transmission and out-of-band phone-to-network signalling. This new method of connectivity meant mobile phones could be used over a larger distance, further fuelling the development of mobile phones that would be more battery efficient and portable.

Now in 2019, nearly all mobile phone users have smart phones which have come a long way since their punch-button ancestors. Advanced applications and software mean mobile phone users can go beyond the standard call and messaging functions, and now speak to another caller face-to-face, have access to GPS services, browse the Internet, and use their device almost anywhere in the world, all thanks to improved cellular networks.

While many of us cannot imagine being without our mobile phone or other connected cellular devices, such as our tablets and laptops, it is a reality for some organisations who have field teams working in more rural locations that signal can still be a challenge – even with the large scale investments made in today’s 4G LTE network to try and close these gaps. Luckily, Westbase.io offers an in-vehicle 4G LTE routing solution with enterprise-grade antenna which delivers a more reliable, high performance connectivity experience in and around vehicles – ensuring that field teams can connect their devices anywhere, anytime. As connected solutions become more prolific as well, the same solution can also connect any other applications in the field – providing a connectivity “hub” for teams to use. To find out more, take a look at our “4G LTE for In-Vehicle Networking” page.

 

Westbase.io represents the latest enterprise-grade advancements in 4G LTE networking solutions. To find out more, please contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 1291 437 567 or info@westbase.io.