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Mobile Communication: From 1G to 4G | Electronics For You

Any radio telephone capable of operating while moving at any speed, battery operated and small enough to be carried by a person comes under the mobile communication systems. These communication systems may have different facilities. The different types of mobile communication systems are mobile two-way radio, public land radio, mobile telephone and amateur (HAM) radio.

Mobile two-way radios are one-to-many communication systems that operate in half-duplex mode, i.e., push to talk. The most common among this type is citizen band (CB) radio, which uses amplitude modulation (AM). It operates in the frequency range of 26-27.1 MHz having 40 channels of 10 kHz. It is a non-commercial service that uses a press-to-talk switch. It can be amplitude modulated having double-sideband suppressed carrier or single-sideband suppressed carrier.

Public land mobile radio is a twoway FM radio system, used in police, fireand municipal agencies. It is limited to small geographical areas.

Mobile telephones offer full-duplex transmission. These are one-to-one systems that permit two simultaneous transmissions. For privacy, each mobile unit carries a unique telephone number.

Amateur (HAM) radios cover a broad frequency band from 1.8 MHz to above 30 MHz. These include continuous wave (CW), AM, FM, radio teleprinter, HF slow-scan still picture TV, VHF or UHF slow-scan or fast-scan TV, facsimile, frequency-shift keying and amplitude-shift keying.

Present and past of mobile communications
Before I narrate the journey from 1G to 4G, let me explain the important technologies behind the phenomenal growth of mobile communication systems. Since the commercial introduction of advanced mobile phone system (AMPS) service in 1983, mobile communication systems have witnessed an explosive growth. The most important breakthrough was the cellular concept.

Cellular concept. The advent of cellular operation brought frequency reuse capabilities. Advances in wireless access, digital signal processing, integrated circuits, increased battery life, etc led to exponential growth of personal communication services.

Cellular system works as follows: An available frequency spectrum is divided into discrete channels, which are assigned in groups to geographic cells covering a service area. The discrete channels are capable of being reused in different cells with diameters ranging from 2 to 50 km. The service area is allotted a radio frequency (RF) transmitter, whereas adjacent cells operate on different frequencies to avoid interference.

Cellular telephones began as a simple two-way analogue communication system using frequency modulation for voice and frequency-shift keying for transporting control and signaling information. Other cellular systems are digital cellular system, cordless telephony, satellite mobile and paging. Analogue cellular systems fall in the first-generation(1G) category and digital cellular low-power wireless fall in the second-generation (2G) category.

Analogue cellular phone. In 1970, Bell Labs in New Jersey proposed a cellular telephone concept as advanced mobile telephony system (AMPS). AMPS is a standard cellular telephone service placed into operation on October 13, 1983 by Illinois Bell. It uses narrow-band FM with a usable audio frequency band of 300-3 kHz and maximum frequency deviation of ±12 kHz for 100 per cent modulation. According to Carson’s rule, this corresponds to 30 kHz.

AMPS uses frequency-division multiple access (FDMA), where transmissions are separated in the frequency domain. Subscribers are assigned a pair of voice channels (forward and reverse) for the duration of their call. Analogue cellular channels carry both voice using FM and digital signaling information using binary FSK.

Digital cellular system. It provides improvements in both capacity and performance. FDMA uses a frequency canalisation approach to spectrum management, while time-division multiple access (TDMA) utilises a time-division approach. The entire available cellular RF spectrum is sub-divided into narrow-band radio channels to be used as a one-way communication link between cellular mobile units and base stations.

Multiple access technologies for cellular systems
Generally, a fxed amount of frequency spectrum is allocated to a cellular system. Multiple access techniques are deployed so that the users can share the available spectrum in an efficientmanner.

For wireless communication, multiplexing can be carried out in three dimensions: Time (TDMA), frequency (FDMA and its variation OFDMA) and code (CDMA).

In TDMA the available spectrum is partitioned into narrow frequency bands or frequency channels, which, in turn, are divided into a number of time slots. In case of North American digital cellular standard IS-136, each frequency channel (30 kHz) is divided into three time slots, whereas in European digital cellular system GSM each frequency channel (200 kHz) is divided into eight time slots. Guard bands are needed both between frequency chan-nels and time slots.

In FDMA, users share the available spectrum in a frequency band called trafficchannel. Different users are assigned different channels on demand basis. The user’s signal power is concentrated in a relatively narrow frequency band. All the analogue cellular systems used FDMA system.

OFDM is a multi-cellular transmission technique where a data stream is carried with many lower-rate subcarrier tones. It has been adopted in mobile communications to combat hostile frequency-selective fading and has been incorporated into wireless network standards.OFDM is a multi-cellular transmis-sion technique where a data stream is carried with many lower-rate sub-carrier tones. It has been adopted in mobile communications to combat hostile frequency-selective fading and has been incorporated into wireless network standards.

OFDM combines the advantages of coherent detection and OFDM modulation and has many merits that are critical for future high-speed transmission systems. By using up/down conversion, electrical bandwidth requirement can be greatly reduced for the OFDM transceiver, which is extremely attractive for high-speed circuit design where electrical signal bandwidth dictates the cost. Lastly, signal processing in the OFDM transceiver can take advantage of efficient algorithm of fat Fourier transform (FFT)/inverse FFT, which suggests that OFDM has superior scalability over channel dispersion and data rate.

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