Why mobile communication protocols have *G umbrella names, like 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G? Who order them? And most inportantly, have them any technically defitions?

I mean, actually protocols are GSM, LTE, 5G NR, etc. AFAIK them are completelly separate protocols and standards, so why put them under those unaccurate names? Is this just for marketing purposes? I don't know any other communication protocols grouped like this...

2 Answers 2


The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) defines the 'G' or Generation features.


See these pages for technical requirements and more information on the various mobile service generations and technologies:



G stands for generation - 3G is the third generation cellular network, and so on. This is mostly marketing but also for describing next-generation properties that don't have a name yet.

  • I know what it stands for, but can you tell, what these Gs technically means? Is there technically defitions for them?
    – worner
    Nov 29, 2023 at 7:29
  • You mean what GSM, UMTS, LTE, ... are and what their differences are? That fills books and is far beyond the scope if this Q&A site.
    – Zac67
    Nov 29, 2023 at 15:49
  • I don't mean that. Gs (I mean, 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) are umbrella names for groups of multiple standards, right? GSM and CDMA are G2, LTE and others are 4G. This grouping seems a bit arbitrary to me and I ask, are Gs only marketing names for actually standards? If yes, who orders them to standards and are there any defitions for them Gs?
    – worner
    Dec 1, 2023 at 4:14
  • Please, read my original post above and answer all questions in it. And can you expand this: "This is mostly marketing but also for describing next-generation properties that don't have a name yet."? Thanks already.
    – worner
    Dec 1, 2023 at 4:18

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