Three primary benefits of 2G networks over their predecessors were:
- Digitally encrypted phone conversations.
- Significantly more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum enabling more users per frequency band.
- Data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages.
2G technologies enabled the various networks to provide the services such as text messages, picture messages, and MMS (multimedia messages). All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing the transfer of data in such a way that only the intended receiver can receive and read it.
After 2G was launched, the previous mobile wireless network systems were retroactively dubbed 1G. While radio signals on 1G networks are analog, radio signals on 2G networks are digital. Both systems use digital signaling to connect the radio towers (which listen to the devices) to the rest of the mobile system.
With General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), 2G offers a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 40 kbit/s. With EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), there is a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 384 kbit/s.
The most common 2G technology was the time division multiple access (TDMA)-based GSM, originally from Europe but used in most of the world outside North America. Over 60 GSM operators were also using CDMA2000 in the 450 MHz frequency band (CDMA450) by 2010.
2.5G ("second and a half generation") is used to describe 2G-systems that have implemented a packet-switched domain in addition to the circuit-switched domain. It doesn't necessarily provide faster service because bundling of timeslots is used for circuit-switched data services (HSCSD) as well.
GPRS networks evolved to EDGE networks with the introduction of 8PSK encoding. While the symbol rate remained the same at 270.833 samples per second, each symbol carried three bits instead of one. Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS), or IMT Single Carrier (IMT-SC) is a backward-compatible digital mobile phone technology that allows improved data transmission rates, as an extension on top of standard GSM. EDGE was deployed on GSM networks beginning in 2003, initially by AT&T in the United States.
Past 2G networks
2G, understood as GSM and CDMA, has been superseded by newer technologies such as 3G (UMTS / CDMA2000), 4G (LTE) and 5G; however, 2G networks are still used in most parts of Europe, Africa, Central America and South America. Various carriers have made announcements that 2G technology in the United States, Japan, Australia, and other countries is in the process of being shut down, or have already shut down 2G services so that carriers can reclaim those radio bands and re-purpose them for newer technologies (e.g. 4G LTE).
|Country||Network||Total decommission date||Details|
|Australia||Optus||2017||Optus shut down 2G in Western Australia and Northern Territory on 3 April 2017 and completed the shutdown within the rest of Australia on 1 August 2017.|
|Australia||Telstra||2016||Telstra closed their GSM network on 1 December 2016, being the first mobile provider in Australia to switch off 2G.|
|Australia||Vodafone||2018||Vodafone closed their legacy GSM network on 30 June 2018.|
|India||Airtel||No plan to shut down 2G.||Bharti Airtel, the largest carrier in India, will shut down their 3G network in mid-2020, while they have no plans to shut down 2G services.|
|India||Reliance||2017||Reliance Communications, a group led by Reliance ADAG, decided to shut down their entire 2G network at the end of November 2017. It is the first operator in the country to do so.|
|Japan||au KDDI||2012 July 22||Qualcomm cdmaOne standard|
|Japan||NTT Docomo||2012 March 31||PDC standard, not compatible with GSM|
|Japan||Softbank||2010 March 31||PDC standard, not compatible with GSM|
|Republic of Korea||KT||2012 March 19|
|Republic of Korea||LG Uplus||2021 June 30 (TBC)|
|Republic of Korea||SK Telecom||2020 July 27 (TBC)|
|Mexico||AT&T Mexico||2020||AT&T Mexico has started the shutdown of their 2G network on the country.|
|Mexico||Movistar||2020||Movistar Mexico started the shutdown of their 2G network in April 2019.|
|Netherlands||T-Mobile||2020 November 15 (TBC)||T-Mobile Netherlands will shutdown 2G services by 15 November 2020.|
|New Zealand||2degrees||2018||2degrees shutdown their 2G network on 15 March 2018.|
|New Zealand||Spark (CDMA)||2012||Spark's 2G network (CDMA) was shut down on 31 July 2012. Spark now operates 3G and 4G networks, and was the first mobile provider in New Zealand to switch off 2G.|
|New Zealand||Warehouse Mobile||2018||Warehouse Mobile, partnered with 2degrees, shut their 2G network down in March 2018, to make way for the new 4G network.|
|Switzerland||Sunrise||2018||Sunrise Communications AG has announced plans to phase out their GSM network by the end of 2018. GSM, GPRS and EDGE will be ended by the end of 2018 in favour of expanded 4G and 4G+ coverage.|
|Switzerland||Swisscom||2021||Telecommunications in Switzerland is mainly operated by state-owned Swisscom, and the two privately held Salt and Sunrise Communications AG as these companies have a license to operate 2G. Swisscom will cease 2G services due to their "public service requirements" only by 1 January 2021.|
|Taiwan||Chunghwa Telecom||2017 June 30|||
|Taiwan||FarEasTone||2017 June 30|||
|Taiwan||Taiwan Mobile||2017 June 30|||
|Thailand||AIS||2019 October 31||Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has approved 31 October 2019 as the date for shutdown of Thailand's 2G mobile network. According to the NBTC, the shutdown will increase efficiency for network operators and open the door for 5G wireless broadband service by 2020. Operators are expected to migrate their 2G users to 3G and 4G services. Provincial governments will assist in informing 2G users of the move. The NBTC will cease their use of 2G standards and inform handset retailers and importers of the network's impending closure.|
|Thailand||DTAC||2019 October 31|
|Thailand||TrueMove H||2019 October 31|
|United States||AT&T||2017||AT&T's 2G GSM service was shut down in January 2017. This shutdown had a notable impact on the electronic security industry, where many 2G GSM radios were in use for alarm signal communication to central station dispatch centers. 2G GSM radios were required to be replaced by newer generation radios to avoid service outages.|
|United States||T-Mobile||2020 (TBC)||T-Mobile US has postponed shutdown of their 2G network until 2020.|
|United States||Verizon||2020 December 31||Verizon plans to shut down their 2G and 3G CDMA-based network by 31 December 2020.|
- 2G spectrum case
- Cliff effect
- List of mobile phone generations
- Mobile radio telephone, also known as 0G
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1st Generation (1G)
|Mobile Telephony Generations||Succeeded by|
3rd Generation (3G)