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Nuts and Bolts: Understanding Internet generation from 1G to 5G

A robot dubbed ‘Urumuri’ has been deployed to Kigali International Airport for performing mass screenings to detect people with high temperature.It will use internet to register all data. / Sam Ngendahimana.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report, Rwandans spend about 7.1 per cent of their average income on internet. Today, it is likely that a big percentage of daily activities such as work, communicating with people, even getting food and other essentials can be done via internet.

When Covid-19 pandemic hit, internet became a basic requirement for a large number of  people to work, study, connect with others and stay updated as millions of people were obliged to stay at home. With such situation, the quality and speed of internet became a concern to almost everyone.


Today, 4G is the fastest internet network used in Rwanda. How is it better that 3G or 2G that were also once the best options?


1G or the first internet generation was first introduced in 1979. Users could make phone calls and send and receive SMS and MMS. It was slow with low chances of success and was used until 2G was introduced. This new mobile network ran on digital signal, not analog, which vastly improved its security but also its capacity.


With 2G came with General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) that enabled users to access wireless communication services and send emails.

3G mobile networks are still in use today, especially when the superior 4G signal fails. 3G revolutionized mobile connectivity and the capabilities of cell-phones. In comparison to 2G, 3G is much faster and can transmit greater amounts of data.

With 3G, users can video call, share files, surf the internet, watch TV online, play online games on their mobiles, among other benefits of the internet. Under 3G, cell-phones are no longer just about calling and texting, they are the hub of social connectivity. 3G has been in use since 2001.

4G or LTE was introduced three years after the first touchscreen phone was introduced in 2007. 4G LTE was the first standard built primarily for data rather than GPRSs. It is five times faster than the 3G network – and can provide speeds of up to 100Mbps.

All mobile models released from 2013 onwards should support this network, which can offer connectivity for tablets and laptops as well as smartphones. Under 4G, users can experience better latency (less buffering), higher voice quality, easy access to instant messaging services and social media, quality streaming and make faster downloads.

5G technology

The 5G network is widely anticipated by the mobile industry. Many experts claim that once widely accessed, the network will change not just how we use our mobiles, but how we connect our devices to the internet. The improved speed and capacity of the network will signal new Internet of Things (IoT) trends, such as connected cars, smart cities and IoT in the home and office.

It is anticipated that 5G’s full economic effect will likely be realized across the globe by 2035—supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to $13.2 trillion worth of goods and services.

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