Numbers

Recently I was asked a question of “How many G’s do you have?”. The question struck me as too vague as there are so many things referred to by the letter G nowadays. You cannot even begin to answer the question without any form of context.

5G could be fifth generation of something. Perhaps you have the 5th gen version of an iPod.

3G or 4G are mobile phone communication technology (like LTE).

GB can be GigaBytes which could be a measurement of the amount of storage you have on your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. (A giga is a thousand million.)

GHz is GigaHertz referring to the speed of your processor (again computer, laptop, tablet, or phone).

Gb/s is a speed rating, Gigabits per second. Many corporate and home networks are one gigabit per second however I have been implementing a number of 10 gigabit per second network backbones lately.

GB/mo is GigaBytes per month. Perhaps your home Internet connection or the data plan on your mobile phone is not unlimited but rather has a maximum amount of GigaBytes permitted to be transferred within each month.

Some people talk about G’s being a thousand dollars, it is used in mathematical calculations as the universal gravitational constant, a name you call someone to be cool (What up, G?), a movie rating for young children, a weight measurement for grams, and on goes the list.

As you see, asking someone how many G’s they have without proper context could mean different things to different people. They provide an answer based on their interpretation while the other person is thinking of something else.

23 Comments
  1. Unfortunately, I have far less “G’s”, as in thousands, than I do anything else :(. 4G access is not available in my area for mobile devices. I live in a pretty rural community who just was able to afford the luxury of 3G, but I can’t complain about the speed, as I have no clue how fast 4G actually is. In terms of gigabytes, I have so many external hard drives, hard drives on my computers and gaming consoles that I’m in the “T’s” or terabytes now. Thankfully, I am not limited by a data plan for my phone or internet, otherwise I’d be in heaps of trouble with the amount of bandwidth I use.

    With all that said, I still think in terms of thousands when I hear the letter G. As technology evolves, I could see that changing at some point.

  2. Well, it could be hard to determine, for example: I live in the Dominican Republic and here we have very limited Gs, not only do we have limited G’s but the phone companies here in the third world sometimes like a little exploitation of the IT ignorant classes like selling you a 4G plan and actually having the netspeed of a 2G network. Lets just wait for technological globalization to really give us a hand here.

  3. This is very true. I didn’t know a Giga is a thousand million. i just kinda know about how many Gigabytes are needed for the device i am using. How much of a difference is it between 3G and 4G netspeed?

  4. I’m not quite sure what gigabytes are in relative comparison to other storage units…”terabytes”, etc.

  5. It’s interesting to see some people who may not have an above-average computer literacy make such vague references to different technological terms. I try to use context when when talking about whatever ‘g’ I so happen to be talking about.

  6. I love how companies all try to throw these numbers around without any type of explanations other than “more is good”. I think that if they were required to post actual comparisons, people would make different purchasing decisions.

    • I agree. A part of the problem may be because the people in charge of selling services or products that involve some Gs (whatever they’re referring to) do not even know what they’re talking about. I suppose the companies could exert more effort like David’s informative post but it might be easier to sell stuff with the “more is better” approach.

    • Yeah, unfortunately some companies take us for idiots and take advantage of how people perceive new things. It’s the old “New and shining: I have to buy it now!” syndrome put to good use for profits.

      It’s quite hard, at least initially, to find out if a certain G means something better or not. That’s why sometimes we get fooled into buying new items with more G’s.

  7. Funny how G’s don’t really matter now that it has moved on to LTE. I don’t even know what it stands for. I usually use wifi to communicate with free walkie/talkie voice messages and text messaging capabilities. It works great… and it is free.

    • I find that I still stick to 4G when I’m not needing the speed provided by LTE. The LTE antennae for my phone seems to drain the battery life much more quickly than with the 4G mode, and I don’t realistically notice the differences in speed for light browsing.

      I do switch to LTE when I tether my laptop to my phone though, since non-mobile pages aren’t optimized as well.

  8. Thanks for this,another quality post. I was confused by all these new terms and what they all meant and you gave me a good understanding of what each term means, why cant things be more simple haha. I had seen GB/mo before but never knew what it meant.

    • There’s a joke of sorts in the IT world… called the TLA. (Three letter acronym). IT is notorious for employing dozens of three letter acronyms, and when reading some of the more technical emails that we receive, it can be a mess trying to decipher a bunch acronyms and intialisms throw in among the jargon.

  9. I have a lot of G’s but I do know what most of them mean. I never understood why generations is abbreviated as 5G when it’s far easier and less confusing to just call it 5th Gen. Anyways, this is a great post and will prove helpful to others.

    • They call it 5G because it’s more buzz-wordy and helps to differentiate the brand better than if you were to otherwise just call it 5th gen. It’s the same principle you see employed with car manufacturers attaching arbitrary letters on to the model to differentiate the tier of the vehicle options.

      • Yes, good analogy. When the high tech world and the marketing world collide there are suddenly lots of Gs being thrown around. It’s amusing, but at the same time, it is psychologically persuasive as they are tapping into the desire for novelty and to be the first one with the hot new product.

        So we’re led to believe we need to have a lot of Gs. Some day we will hit the double digits — 10G and beyond and all those single Gs will be as outmoded as the rotary dial phone.

  10. I agree the reference was vague; the person probably uses it at work or socially in such a way everyone knows what t means, and assumed it was a generally known reference.

    Some clues could be used to narrow down the query a bit. For example, the Gs in cellphone networks are used as Singular (4G not 4Gs). Same with G meaning generation: 4rd G (not Gs) Ipod.

    Did you find out what the person meant?

  11. It’s necessary to explain to other people when I ask the “G” word. In this case, I’m referring to the speed of the network that’s used by mobile providers. I have T-Mobile, and the 4G speed is very fast comparing to LTE. LTE is also a 4G technology that’s different from the 4G technology I have with T-Mobile. I believe the major four mobile carriers in USA have already implemented the LTE service. The good thing about T-Mobile’s current 4G (non-LTE) technology is that I can be able to switch to 3G or 2G (Edge) anytime I want. The 4G technology does drain the battery faster than the combination of 3G and 2G.

  12. What a funny world! A word could mean several hundreds of things. I’ve no problem with any of the G. I think one could easily differentiate from the context of the user or the way they use it. For example in Physics we have acceleration due to gravity “g” and gravitational constant represented by “G”. In terms of money the G is for grand meaning a thousand.

    How many Gs do I have in terms of network? Well, that’s relative to location. If I’m home I will have 2G which is better than the 2G I’ve in school where 3.75G is available. In commercial area, I get 4G, but really I don’t need more than 3G if the 3G is indeed 3G.

  13. H haha that’s true. Today, the world is full of the ‘G’. It’s quite interesting, makes you wonder and take back to the roots of technology and see the history of the letter G and how it came to be used as often as it is today.

  14. It’s kinda amazing when you look back and see how far we’ve come. In the 90’s, a couple of kilobytes of storage was considered high end, and now we’re getting towards terabytes of storage! We have supercomputer clusters that have thousands and thousands of GHz of power!

  15. Well, I wouldn’t know how to answer that question out of context like that. Gs in technology can mean one thing to one person and another thing to another person. No, I would even consider having a different answer if asked that question in a different situation. It really depends, you know, the answer. Depending on who asked the question, I would struggle to answer and would find my balance if the question is related to tech. If not, I would probably just struggle and not have an exact answer.

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