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2G (or 2-G) is short for second-generation wireless telephone technology. Second generation 2G cellular telecom 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 allowing for far greater mobile phone penetration levels; and 2G introduced data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages. 2G technologies enabled the various mobile phone networks to provide the services such as text messages, picture messages and MMS (multi media messages). All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing for 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 telephone 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 handsets) to the rest of the telephone system.

2G has been superseded by newer technologies such as 2.5G, 2.75G, 3G, and 4G; however, 2G networks are still used in many parts of the world.


  • 2G technologies 1
  • Capacities, advantages, and disadvantages 2
    • Capacity 2.1
    • Disadvantages 2.2
    • Advantage 2.3
  • Evolution 3
    • 2.5G (GPRS) 3.1
    • 2.75G (EDGE) 3.2
  • 2G Shut Down 4
    • Australia 4.1
    • Canada 4.2
    • Singapore 4.3
    • Switzerland 4.4
    • United States 4.5
  • See also 5
  • References 6

2G technologies

2G technologies can be divided into Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)-based and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)-based standards depending on the type of multiplexing used. The main 2G standards are:

  • GSM (TDMA-based), originally from Europe but used in most of the world outside North America. Today accounts for over 80% of all subscribers around the world. Over 60 GSM operators are also using CDMA2000 in the 450 MHz frequency band (CDMA450).[2]
  • IS-95 aka cdmaOne (CDMA-based, commonly referred as simply CDMA in the US), used in the Americas and parts of Asia. Today accounts for about 17% of all subscribers globally. Over a dozen CDMA operators have migrated to GSM including operators in Mexico, India and Australia.
  • PDC also known as JDC (Japanese Digital Cellular) (TDMA-based), used exclusively in Japan
  • iDEN (TDMA-based), proprietary network used by Nextel in the United States and Telus Mobility in Canada
  • IS-136 a.k.a. D-AMPS (TDMA-based, commonly referred as simply 'TDMA' in the US), was once prevalent in the Americas but most have migrated to GSM.

2G services are frequently referred as Personal Communications Service, or PCS, in the United States.

Capacities, advantages, and disadvantages


Using digital signals between the handsets and the towers increases system capacity in two key ways:

  • Digital voice data can be compressed and multiplexed much more effectively than analog voice encodings through the use of various codecs, allowing more calls to be transmitted in same amount of radio bandwidth.
  • The digital systems were designed to emit less radio power from the handsets. This meant that cells had to be smaller, so more cells had to be placed in the same amount of space. This was possible because cell towers and related equipment had become less expensive.

2G Data Transmission Capacity:[3]

  • With GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), you have a theoretical transfer speed of max. 50 kbit/s (40 kbit/s in practice).
  • With EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), you have a theoretical transfer speed of max. 1 Mbit/s (500 kbit/s in practice).


  • In less populous areas, the weaker digital signal transmitted by a cellular phone may not be sufficient to reach a cell tower. This tends to be a particular problem on 2G systems deployed on higher frequencies, but is mostly not a problem on 2G systems deployed on lower frequencies. National regulations differ greatly among countries which dictate where 2G can be deployed.
  • Analog has a smooth decay curve, but digital has a jagged steppy one. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Under good conditions, digital will sound better. Under slightly worse conditions, analog will experience static, while digital has occasional dropouts. As conditions worsen, though, digital will start to completely fail, by dropping calls or being unintelligible, while analog slowly gets worse, generally holding a call longer and allowing at least some of the audio transmitted to be understood.


  • While digital calls tend to be free of static and background noise, the lossy compression they use reduces their quality, meaning that the range of sound that they convey is reduced. Talking on a digital cell phone, a caller hears less of the tonality of someone's voice.


2G networks were built mainly for voice services and slow data transmission (defined in IMT-2000 specification documents), but are considered by the general public to be 2.5G or 2.75G services because they are several times slower than present-day 3G service.

2.5G (GPRS)

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 does not necessarily provide faster services because bundling of timeslots is used for circuit-switched data services (HSCSD) as well. The first major step in the evolution of GSM networks to 3G occurred with the introduction of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). CDMA2000 networks similarly evolved through the introduction of 2.5G

2.75G (EDGE)

GPRS networks evolved to EDGE networks with the introduction of 8PSK encoding. 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.

EDGE is standardized by 3GPP as part of the GSM family and it is an upgrade that provides a potential three-fold increase in capacity of GSM/GPRS networks.The 2G digital service provided very useful features, such as caller ID, call forwarding and short messaging.

2G Shut Down


Telstra announced that they will shut down their GSM network by the end of 2016.[4]

Optus announced that they will shut down their GSM network in April 2017.[5]


Sasktel announced that it would be shutting down its CDMA networks in 2015 or early 2016,[6] starting with its EV-DO network, which was shut down on September 30, 2014.[7]



Preceded by
1st Generation (1G)
Mobile Telephony Generations Succeeded by
3rd Generation (3G)
  1. ^ "Radiolinja's History". April 20, 2004. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  2. ^ "CDMA Worldwide". Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Addressing the demand for faster data
  7. ^ beginning with its EV-DO network, which was shut down on September 30, 2014.SaskTel Turning Down EV-DO Data Service
  8. ^ "Safety standards in telecommunications". Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Swisscom Mobile Network 1990 – 2020" (PDF). Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Swisscom is equipping its mobile network for the future". Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  14. ^
  15. ^


See also

This shut down is having a notable impact on the electronic security industry where many 2G GSM radios are in use for alarm signal communication to Central Station dispatch centers. 2G GSM radios must be replaced by newer generation radios to avoid service outages.[15]

Various carriers such as AT&T have made announcements that 2G GSM 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 future technology needs. The shut down will be complete by the end of 2016. All 2G GSM devices will lose service at some point between now and the end of 2016.[14]

United States

Swisscom will cease 2G services due to it's "public service requirements" only by 1 January 2021. [13]

Telecommunications in Switzerland is mainly operated by Swiss Federal Council owned Swisscom, and the two privately held Salt and Sunrise as these companies have a license to operate 2G.


Singtel, M1 and StarHub will cease 2G services effective 1 April 2017[10] [11] .[12]

[9] compared to bigger markets, where the statutory requirements have 10 times stricter exposure limits even with more topography challenges. [8]

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