What is 2G?


2G (or 2-G) is short for second-generation cellular technology. Second-generation 2G cellular networks were commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj) in 1991.[1] Three primary benefits of 2G networks over their predecessors were that phone conversations were digitally encrypted; 2G systems were significantly more efficient on the spectrum enabling far greater wireless penetration levels; and 2G introduced 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 50 kbit/s (40 kbit/s in practice).[2][not in citation given] With EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), there is a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 1 Mbit/s (500 kbit/s in practice).[2][not in citation given]

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.[3]


2.5G (GPRS)[edit]

2.5G ("second and a half generation"[citation needed]) 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.

2.75G (EDGE)[edit]

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[edit]

2G has been superseded by newer technologies such as 2.5G, 2.75G, 3G, and 4G; however, 2G networks are still used in most parts of the world.[citation needed] Various carriers have made announcements that 2G technology in the United States is in the process of being shut down so that carriers can reclaim those radio bands and re-purpose them for newer technologies (e.g. 4G LTE).

Country Network Total decommission year Details
United States AT&T 2017 AT&T's 2G GSM service was shut down in January 2017.[4][5][6] 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.[7]
United States Verizon 2019 Verizon plans to shut down its 2G and 3G CDMA-based network by 31 December 2019.[8] Making it the first LTE-only network in United States.
United States T-Mobile 2020 (TBC) T-Mobile US has postponed shutdown of their 2G network until 2020.[9]
Australia Telstra 2016 Telstra closed their GSM network on 1 December 2016, being the first mobile provider in Australia to switch off 2G.[10]
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.[11]
Australia Vodafone 2018 Vodafone closed its legacy GSM network on 30 June 2018.[12]
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.[13]
New Zealand 2degrees 2018 2degrees shutdown its 2G network on 15 March 2018.[14]
Netherlands T-Mobile 2020 (TBC) T-Mobile Netherlands will shutdown 2G services by 2020.[15]
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 its "public service requirements" only by 1 January 2021.[16]
Switzerland Sunrise 2018 (TBC) Sunrise Communications AG has announced plans to phase out its 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.[17]
Singapore Singtel 2017
Singapore M1 2017
Singapore StarHub 2017
India Airtel 2019 (TBC) Bharti Airtel, the largest carrier will shut down the 2G network later after 2019.
India Reliance (including JIO) 2017 Reliance Communications, a group led by Reliance ADAG, decided to shut down its entire 2G network at the end of November 2017. It is the first operator in the country to do so.[18]Also Jio, a second largest carrier led by Reliance Industries(RIL) operates as the only 4G-LTE network in India.
Trinidad and Tobago bmobile 2016 bmobile decommissioned its 2G GSM network in order to roll out its LTE network on Band 2 (1900MHz) on 9 December 2016. bmobile's 2G EDGE network will still be active.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Radiolinja's History". 20 April 2004. Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Wi-Fi and mobile Internet (3G or 4G)". Proximus. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ "CDMA Worldwide". Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  4. ^ Gryta, Thomas (3 August 2012). "AT&T to Leave 2G Behind". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ "AT&T 2G Sunset". povertymobile. 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  6. ^ "AT&T's Donovan Says 2G Network in 'Soft Lock', Decommissioning to Begin in Coming Months". FierceWireless.com. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  7. ^ "2G Sunset Overview". Telguard. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  8. ^ Danno, Mike. "Verizon to Shut Down 2G CDMA 1X Network by the End of 2019". FierceWireless. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  9. ^ Abent, Eric (14 September 2016). "T-Mobile Takes a Swing at AT&T, Says Its 2G Network Will Stay Active through 2020". SlashGear. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  10. ^ Turner, Adam (4 November 2016). "Budget Mobile Customers Brace for Australia's 2G Shutdown". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  11. ^ "2G Network Closure Update" (Press release). Optus. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  12. ^ https://www.vodafone.com.au/support/network/2G-closure
  13. ^ "Telecom closes CDMA network". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  14. ^ "2degrees to close down 2G access in March 2018". 2degrees. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  15. ^ "T-Mobile Netherlands plans GSM shutdown by 2020".
  16. ^ "Swisscom is equipping its mobile network for the future". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Sunrise to shut down GSM network by end-2018". Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  18. ^ "RComm to Shut Down 2G Network in a Month, Will Continue with 4G Only Network Like JIO".
Preceded by
1st Generation (1G)
Mobile Telephony Generations Succeeded by
3rd Generation (3G)