Episode 4: Wireless

Traceroute

Mar 3 2022 • 35 mins

The term 5G has been the talk of the town. Much of the hype is due to its faster internet speed that allows the handling of multiple devices compared with previous networks. Recently, some countries have started to roll out this technology. However, it's still in its early years, so we have yet to discover its full potential.

In this episode, we'll hear insights from Ed Knapp, Sue Marek, and Sascha Segan on the topic of wireless network connection. We discuss the development of the wireless industry and how internet infrastructure spurred its growth. We also go through the generations of wireless network connection, from 2G to 4G, and peer into how the development of 5G will unfold.

If you want to know more about next-generation wireless networks and how technology develops to support them, then this episode is for you.

Episode Highlights

[01:07] The Beginning of Wireless Technology

  • Wireless technology was introduced during the 80s. It was then that Ed Knapp started to see the emergence of innovative technologies like the car phone.
  • Demand for wireless services was limited because wireless devices and services were expensive. No one expected them to have more than a million subscribers in the US.
  • The technology had tremendous value, even life-saving for some. And so, Knapp wanted more people to access it.
  • By the 90s, people were trying to join analog modems to the cellular network so more people could connect to the internet. But it was too difficult to get them connected.
  • One company couldn't overcome this challenge alone. More help was needed to create massive infrastructure networks necessary to solve this problem.

[04:21] Diverging of Paths: Internet and Wireless

  • The wireless industry developed at the same time as internet infrastructure. As they grew, demand for their service also increased.
  • There was an insatiable want for wireless service, and engineers needed to figure out how to create networks that could support it.
  • Cell towers are needed to connect cell phones to networks, but they are expensive to build. Companies, later on, decided to share the equipment instead of building their own.

[05:11] Opening the Wireless Network to an Independent Model

  • When the iPhone entered the market, 4G traffic and operatives needed to increase their capacity.
  • The industry evolved into a point where telecom companies do not need to own all network infrastructure. Instead, independent companies started to manage the installed towers.

[06:53] Customer Complaints

  • Customers had an issue with how they were being billed.
  • During this time, cell phone companies could get away with charging customers by the minute for their service by acting like they had limited capacity.
  • The same problem happened when text messaging emerged. Customers were still billed by the number of characters.
  • The internet changed the game as it made sending information cheaper. Suddenly, it didn’t make sense for people to be charged the same way again.
  • Because of this technological advancement, businesses were pressured to change their service and how they charged their clients.

[09:29] The ‘G’

  • The G in 4G or 5G stands for “generation.” It refers to the phase of technology that is the industry standard.

Sue Marek: “Every generation of cellular [technology] is about every 10 years. So 2020 is 5G, 2010 was 4G, 2000 was...

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