GSM, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, and NBioT Network Standards: Which Is Best for Street Lighting?

5 Minute Read

Choosing the ideal data transfer standard for street lighting management can be a daunting task. Whether GSM, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, or NBioT, the choice often hinges on reliability, cost-effectiveness, and future readiness. Dive deep into the evolution of these cellular communication standards and discover the best fit for modern street lighting systems.

GSM, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, and NBioT Network Standards: Which Is Best for Street Lighting?

The Importance of Data Transfer Standards

Most operational aspects in street lighting remain consistent, regardless of the data transfer standard, as long as the standard operates reliably and is cost-effective. The onus of selecting the right network often falls on experts who must navigate a labyrinth of marketing studies and weigh long-term equipment investments.

Cellular Network Evolution. What is GSM? Street Lighting Control QULON

Cellular Network Evolution. What is GSM?

GSM, short for Global System for Mobile Communications, marked a watershed moment in mobile communication history. Originating from the European Conference on Permanent International Connections (CEPT) in the early 1980s, GSM was envisioned to set a universal digital mobile communication standard. This ensured compatibility and international roaming capabilities for mobile phones, responding to the rapidly growing interest in mobile communication.

In 1991, Finland's Radiolinja (now Telia Finland) launched the first commercial GSM system, setting the stage for GSM to become the global standard for mobile communication.

From Voice to Data: The Advent of 2G

While the initial GSM networks were analog, tailored mainly for voice transmission, the evolution in communication equipment shifted the focus towards data transmission. Starting with low-speed modem connections, the first comprehensive data transfer standard soon came to the fore—2G. An evolution from the first analog cellular networks like the AMPS systems in the US, 2G brought digital technology to mobile communication. Finland, once again, led the way by launching the first 2G network in 1991, providing a foundation for future cellular network generations.

3G: The Next Leap in Data Transfer

Emphasizing enhanced data transfer speeds, 3G, or the third generation of cellular networks, brought substantial improvements over 2G. Launched in the early 2000s in countries like Japan and the USA, 3G facilitated faster internet access and multimedia services on mobile devices.

4G: A New Era of High-Speed Mobile Connectivity

Following the advancements made by 3G, the cellular world experienced another evolution—4G. Designed to eclipse its predecessor in every aspect, the fourth generation of cellular networks brought unprecedented data transfer speeds, unwavering connections, and enhanced capabilities for today's smart devices.

Understanding 4G and LTE

Often, there's confusion surrounding the terms "4G" and "LTE". While 4G symbolizes the broader generation of mobile networks, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is a specific technology subset within the 4G framework. In layman's terms, when most people say "4G," they're referencing networks powered by LTE technology. This guarantees rapid internet access on mobile platforms. With its roots starting in 2009, commercial 4G networks, particularly those based on LTE, became globally available by 2012.

IoT and the Evolution of Communication Standards

The cellular industry's shift towards the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication marked the start of a new phase. M2M encapsulates seamless data exchange between devices, minimizing human intervention.

NB-IoT and LTE-M: Pioneers of M2M Communication

Up until the 4G era, the dominant standard for IoT devices was the Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT). Crafted for reliability and efficiency, NB-IoT focused on low energy consumption and extended transmission range. Meanwhile, 4G introduced another benchmark for M2M—LTE-M. It's crucial to note that while cellular operators often utilize the term NB-IoT, there are distinctions between NB-IoT and LTE-M standards.

5G: The Next Step

As the world's hunger for speedier internet and adaptable network capabilities grew, the stage was set for the latest cellular marvel: 5G.

5G: Revolutionizing Mobile Communication

The world is currently in the embrace of 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication networks. This latest evolution promises greater benefits over its predecessors, the 3G and 4G networks.

Benefits and Features of 5G

5G stands as a beacon of superior data throughput, reduced latency, and enhanced reliability. But it's not just about boosting mobile device connectivity. 5G is built with an eye on the future – catering to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality experiences, and many other state-of-the-art applications.

Device-to-Device (D2D) Communication

Distinguished from its predecessors, 5G introduces the mode termed Device-to-Device (D2D) or Direct Communication. This feature facilitates devices to directly communicate, sidestepping central network intermediaries. Yet, the advancement of 5G hasn't been entirely seamless.

Challenges with 5G Implementation

Challenges with 5G Implementation



To achieve 5G's potential, a shift to higher-frequency wireless stations is necessary. However, these stations often have a smaller coverage area compared to the more extensive reach of 4G's lower-frequency stations. This difference necessitates more stations, escalating costs.

Health Concerns

There have been murmurs of potential health impacts from high-frequency electromagnetic waves. While a significant number of studies haven't pinned down specific health risks, some scientists' reservations have kindled public apprehensions and calls for tighter regulations.

Data Transmission in Outdoor Lighting Control Systems

Data Transmission in Outdoor Lighting Control Systems

To understand the best data transmission standards for outdoor lighting, it's crucial to comprehend the nature of data – telemetry. This data, vital for lighting control, isn't vast but requires consistent transmission. Interestingly, the standards set by 2G are adequate for these needs.

Comparing Communication Standards for Lighting

While 2G, 3G, and 4G primarily vary in speed, speed isn't a pressing requirement for outdoor lighting. Yet, there's an undeniable uptick in equipment costs with advancing generations. LTE-M serves a different device category, and 5G, despite its D2D communication potential, remains relatively rare and costly. Using low-energy standards like NB-IoT and LTE-M might seem attractive, but they truly shine for battery-powered devices. For streetlight controls, which are always powered, the primary draw to these standards would be carrier affordability.


Practicality Over Hype

Don't be beguiled by marketing allure and jargon. Instead, zero in on the practical aspects of application. With our product line embracing all communication standards, when it comes to GSM, your focus should be the carrier service cost, network availability, and region-specific supported networks.