MOBILE NETWORKS  ▷ What are they How it works Types Examples ▷ 2020

Knowing how mobile networks work is not usual unless you are a telecommunications lover. We usually learn how to use a phone and make calls, send messages, and connect to our social profiles.

However, for that to be possible, there is behind an arduous communication work which includes, of course, a mobile network, which is the channel through which all the information you exchange with the world passes.

We will see today precisely what are mobile networks, how do they work, what are they for and which ones exist, with their corresponding differentiating characteristics.

What are mobile data networks and what are they for?

A mobile data network is the system that is required for communication to take place between a central and the devices that connect to it (in this case, mobile phones) and also between exchanges.

This is made up of visible and non-visible elements: antennas, radio waves, transmitters and receivers (found in communication towers or base stations), traffic generating devices, a network core andof course mobile devices with which we communicate, which are the points at which the information is opened, expanded or interpreted, reaching the final recipient (the user).

Each network works on a geographical area, which is normally delimited in a grid with cells. In these the stations are placed; this is usually done either at the vertex between several cells or in the center of each one. This is decided based on the conditions of the place (at the physical level) and the number of telephones that will use the network.

How does a mobile data network really work?

evolution of mobile networks

We will begin by stating that the network itself is not capable of fulfilling its function towards the user. In addition to this, it is necessary to find switching telephone exchanges to connect to, and which are between the mobile network system and our telephone.

That said, it should be noted that communication between telephones is made possible by sending and receiving radio signals, which have a low power. So that they can travel to nearby points, exchange with signals from nearby antennas (which are connected to radio transmitters and receivers and which, in turn, are also connected to other telephone networks), thus being able to “bounce” to move as far as necessary, carrying the message both same network as in a different one that the recipient of the message is using.

When we call from a mobile phone, this begins by studying the coverage in the area where it is located to check if there is sufficient force to meet the needs of the call.

If appropriate coverage is available, there is a connection with the nearest telephone station, which is the one that truly establishes the call and provides support to maintain it until one of the two parties to the conversation hangs up or until there is no longer sufficient coverage on that base station.

Of course, the concept has developed a great deal, with the sending SMS, MMS, video calls and, of course, the Internet access from mobile devices. This has made that, obviously, the needs are different and that the networks have had to be modified according to them.

What types of mobile networks are there and what do the connection symbols mean?

Types of mobile networks

Advances in telephony and communication in general have allowed us, over the decades, to use (and have used) several different mobile networks. These are the main mobile connection symbols:

GSM or 2G

The acronym originally stood for Group Special Mobile and now Global System for Mobile Communication. It has also been known as the 2G network for being the second generation. Its about first fully digital mobile phone system. It was with this network that the use of these devices became accessible to everyone.

It offers very good results in voice communication but is not suitable for working with data, since the speed managed between the network and the device was, in the first instance, 900 bits per second. This is possible but done very slowly and never in combination with voice calls.

It uses the frequency bands GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800 and GSM 1900. Although there are currently many others that we will see below, all phones continue to have compatibility with at least one of those bands so that the user makes use of the 2G network at times when they do not need anything more elaborate.


It is the acronym for General Packet Radio System. This network is the 2.5G network. Born to solve the problem of sending unswitched network-telephone data, achieving a speed of 56000 to 144000 bits per second (from network to mobile, conversely the 9600 were maintained).

This is ideal because when we connect to the internet, the usual thing is to receive much more data than we send, so that maintaining a low speed in the telephone-network direction is adequate to not consume more battery than necessary. His system consists of the use of several spaces that are not used when we do not use voice, which multiplies the speed.


The name stands for Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution. It is the unknown 2.75G network. It is a version of the previous one that what it does is increase the speed the closer we are to the antenna. We find a modulation of data that differs to achieve this.

UMTS or 3G

Although we know her as 3G, its name is UMTS, from Universal Mobile Telecommunication System. For society it represents an absolute change: video calls are allowed and the data connection is at 384,000 bits per second.

Performance in terms of coverage prioritize nearby devices, which go on to receive the bulk of the antenna’s resources, leaving those far away deprived. Therefore, many more antennas (3-1) are necessary to offer the same coverage. As is evident, speed requires power and this, battery consumption, the main reason why we still find users who only use 2G.


This network is the High Speed ​​Packet Access, known as 3.5G. It stands out for even exceeding the speed of many ADSL services, with up to 14.4 MBit / s central-device.

Later, we find that There are two variants of this, which are HSDPA and HSUPA, which will improve the speed in this direction in reverse respectively, reaching 2 MBit / s in the case of the latter.


It is about the evolution of the HSPA network and, in short, what it offers is an increase up to 88 Mbps in the direction of the control panel to the device and 22 Mbps in the opposite direction. Therefore, it would be the 3.75G network.

LTE or 4G


Abbreviating the term Long Term Evolution and known as 4GConsidering the fourth generation network, we have the LTE network. Works with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing technology (OFDM) and stands out for solving the problem that occurred with 3G coverage in distant points. With it the coverage remains constant, there is much or little.

It is quite advanced and we find it in number of devices, although, we have to say that no operator is still certain that taking the step towards the 4G network eliminating the others is adequate, so that any current phone, you have the operator that you have, it will allow you to connect to it but also disable its connection to enjoy the benefits of 2G in the cases where it is more convenient.

Even so, we already have two options of this standard: LTE FDD and LTE TDD. There are bands reserved for one and the other and each operator works with the most convenient license, although we have no problem, since our phones support both. In the first case we find a given communication on two different frequencies that are within the same band. In the second, we find that communication in both directions uses a single frequency.

LTE Advanced is a technology that includes MIMO, an effective tool that allows the use of both multiple bands and up to four antennas, constituting what we know as Carrier Aggregation, which would be a functionality that allows us to receive information at 3 GBps and send it at 1.5 GBps.

LTE Advanced Pro (or 4.5G) goes one step further by exceed the speed of fixed networks FFTH, which is achieved thanks to the improvement and subsequent use of up to four technologies. But, the most characteristic of this network is the use of the 5GHz WiFi band.

IMT-2020 or 5G

The 5G, which is often confused with the WiFi band we just discussed, is practically a reality, ready to catch up with us in 2020 (hence its name).

its trivial capacity will be 100 Mbps and it is intended to even reach 10 Gbps under what circumstances. Its latency will be 1 msThis will require a high-capacity channeling element to allow so much information to move, including data transmission and voice calls over VoLTE.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will also be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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