vol 15 / no 1 / January 2006 / issn 0118-3931

Untitled Document

The G-Tech Evolution

On to another “modernizing” year: 2006 shall not only be a year for looking forward but looking beyond. So, to start the year, I have specially chosen this topic to enlighten everyone on what’s in store for us in terms of wireless applications not only for this year but for the years to come: the 4th Generation Technology or simply “4G.”


One of the major gadgets that made waves in the commercial market in 2005 was the digital audio player, particularly the flash-based and digital jukeboxes. Generally integrated into USB key drives of any computer, these devices behave like external data storages with

the facility to play digital files (e.g., mp3 and .wma or Windows Media Audio files). The handy flash players use memory cards while digital jukeboxes have hard drives with up to 100GB capacity. Lately, the fifth-generation model, specifically Apple’s iPod, can now play videos.

Another modern device which has found an avid market among professionals, especially yuppies, is the personal digital assistant (PDA) or palmtop. This electronic personal organizer usually includes an address book, schedule list, note pad, time keeper and calculator. More important, it can synchronize data with a computer and give access to the Internet via wi-fi or Bluetooth technology.

Amidst the development of these devices, a new technology looms, promises to integrate the functions of a multimedia player, personal organizer, Internet access, game console, and photo, audio and video recorder, aside from the fact that you can talk to people from anywhere in the world with them. This is the forthcoming 4th generation of wireless digital access device or 4G cellular phones, which may be the all-in-one gizmo you’ll ever need in the future.

A cell phone or mobile phone, as we all know, is an entirely portable and wireless telephone that connects to a network using radio-wave transmission similar to televisions, radios or radars. In its simplest sense, radio waves are signals that can carry information. The progression of mobile phone technology fashioned the G-evolution nomenclature to give distinct breakthroughs in its advancement. The analog cell phone, introduced in the 1980s, is now regarded as the 1G or First Generation cell phone. While the first ever wireless telephone took the world by storm, analog cell phones are now remembered mostly for the hideous cross lines interfering with your phone conversations and the funny moments of climbing over roofs or up a tree to get a signal. The pre-cellular phone era was then retroactively dubbed 0-G (Zero Generation) to depict the phones usually mounted on cars or trucks then later on in briefcases, as seen in 1970s James Bond movies.

The revolutionary leap of wireless phones from analog to digital marks the second-generation technology or 2G. Unlike the analog system, which simply transmits data as a matter of cause and effect, the digital system uses binary numbers (typically 0 and 1) for input, processing, transmission and display of data, greatly improving voice quality and transmission.

To better understand the concept of digitization, let’s see what happens when you convert an analog photo into a digital image by scanning. When you scan the photograph, the continuous signals (the transmission or conveyance of the photo’s information to the scanner) are converted into a series of different discrete values called samples. Each sample is converted to numbers—e.g., red = 01; light red = 001; and such for all the properties. Random variations in the analog signal, which may be caused by dirt or dust for instance, cause distortions in the picture. A purely digital data, however, is not subject to such distortions. After all, how can dust fall on a digital photograph? Generally, in a digital system, such “noises” are eradicated because variances will be interpreted only to the nearest particular value as sampled. Hence, the quality of digital data transmitted is maintained despite long distances or other disturbances.