2G

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2G is a short notation for second-generation cellular network, a group of technology standards employed for cellular networks. 2G was comercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj) in 1991.[1] 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, though both systems use digital signaling to connect cellular radio towers to the rest of the mobile network system.

The most common 2G technology was the time-division multiple access (TDMA)-based GSM standard, used in most of the world outside Japan and North America.[citation needed] In North America, Digital AMPS (IS-54 and IS-136) and cdmaOne (IS-95) were the main systems.[citation needed] In Japan the ubiquitous system was Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) though another, Personal Handy-phone System (PHS), also existed.[citation needed]

Three primary benefits of 2G networks over their 1G predecessors were:

  1. Digitally encrypted phone conversations, at least between the mobile phone and the cellular base station but not necessarily in the rest of the network.
  2. Significantly more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum enabling more users per frequency band.
  3. Data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages then expanding to Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

With General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), 2G offers a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 40 kbit/s (5 kB/s).[2] With EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), there is a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 384 kbit/s (48 kB/s).[2]

Evolution[edit]

Cellular network standards and generation timeline.

2.5G (GPRS)[edit]

2.5G ("second and a half generation"[3]) 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.

Phase-out[edit]

2G, understood as GSM and CDMA, has been superseded by newer technologies such as 3G (UMTS / CDMA2000), 4G (LTE / WiMAX) and 5G (5G NR); however, 2G networks are still used in most parts of Europe, Africa, Central America and South America,[4][5][6] and many modern LTE-enabled devices are known to still fallback to 2G for phone calls, especially in rural areas.[7] In some places, its successor 3G is being shut down rather than 2G – Vodafone previously announced that it had switched off 3G across Europe in 2020 but still retains 2G as a fallback service.[8] Meanwhile, in the US, T-Mobile is currently shutting down their 3G services while retaining their 2G GSM network.[9][10]

Various carriers have made announcements that 2G technology in the United States, Japan, Australia, and other countries are 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, 5G).[11][12]

In 2022, Android 12 introduced a system setting to disable 2G connectivity for the device, supposedly to mitigate security concerns associated with 2G networks.[13]

Criticism[edit]

In some parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, 2G remains widely used for feature phones and for internet of things (IoT) devices where the high patent licensing cost of newer technologies makes them prohibitive, such as smart meters, eCall systems and vehicle tracking devices.[14][8][15] Terminating 2G services could leave vulnerable people who rely on 2G infrastructure without means to access emergency contacts, leading to preventable deaths.[15]

Past 2G networks[edit]

Country Network Shutdown date Standard Notes
 Australia Optus 2017-08-01 GSM 2G shut down in WA and NT on 3 April 2017.[16][17]
Telstra 2016-12-01 GSM [18]
Vodafone 2018-06-30 GSM
 Bahrain Batelco 2021-11-30 GSM [19]
 Belgium Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
Telenet < 2027 GSM [21]
 Brunei DSTCom 2021-06-01 GSM [22][23]
Progresif 2021-06-01 GSM [22][23]
imagine 2021-06-01 GSM [22][23]
 Canada Bell 2019-04-30 cdmaOne Shutdown of CDMA transmitters began in remote areas in 2017, followed by an official announcement
in June 2018 that 2G devices will lose service soon.[24][25]
Rogers Wireless 2021-12-31 GSM [26][27]
SaskTel 2017-07-31 cdmaOne [28][29]
Telus Mobility 2017-05-31 cdmaOne [30][31]
 Cayman Islands Digicel 2020-07-01 GSM [32][33]
 China China Unicom since 2021 Q1 GSM [34][35][36]
China Telecom since
2020-06-16
< 2025
cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rev. A/B (3G) service also terminates.[37][38]
 Colombia Claro 2023-02-23 GSM [39][40]
Tigo 2022-11-01 GSM [41]
 France Orange 2025-12-31 GSM [20]
 Hong Kong 3 2021-09-30 GSM [42]
SmarTone 2022-10-14 GSM [43]
 Iceland < 2025-12-31 GSM per government statement[44]
 Israel < 2025 GSM per government statement[45]
 Jamaica FLOW H2 2022 GSM Shutdown commenced in Q2 2022.[46]
 Japan au KDDI 2008-03-31 cdmaOne
NTT Docomo 2012-03-31 PDC [47]
Softbank 2010-03-31 PDC [48]
 Luxembourg Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
 Macau China Telecom 2010 cdmaOne [49]
CTM 2019-08-01 GSM Service for local customers terminated on 4 June 2015 with service remaining for roaming users.[50][49]
3 2019-08-01 GSM Service for local customers terminated on 4 June 2015 with service remaining for roaming users.[50][49]
SmarTone 2019-08-01 GSM Service for local customers terminated on 4 June 2015 with service remaining for roaming users.[50][49]
 Mexico AT&T since
Q1 2019
GSM [51]
Movistar 2021-01-01 GSM [52]
 Netherlands T-Mobile 2021-06-01 /
2023-11-15 (IoT)
GSM [53]
 New Caledonia OPT-NC since 2022
2025
GSM [54]
 New Zealand 2degrees 2018-03-15 GSM [55]
Spark 2012-07-31 cdmaOne [56][57]
 Norway Telenor 2025 GSM [58]
Telia 2025 GSM [58]
 Poland Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
 Romania Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
 Singapore M1 2017-04-18 GSM [59]
Singtel 2017-04-18 GSM [59]
StarHub 2017-04-18 GSM [59]
 Sint Maarten TelCell 2019-01-01 GSM [60]
UTS 2017-09-26 GSM [61]
 Slovakia Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
 South Africa 2024-06-30 GSM per government statement[62][63]
 South Korea KT 2012-03-19 cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rel. 0 (3G) service has also terminated.[64]
LG Uplus 2021-06-30 cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rev. A/B (3G) service has also terminated.[65]
SK Telecom 2020-07-27 cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rel. 0 (3G) service has also terminated.[66]
 Spain Orange < 2030 GSM [20]
 Switzerland Salt since
2020-07-01
GSM As of December 2020 network coverage almost completely vanished with remote sites remaining
that do not emit a 3G signal in order to preserve CSFB functionality.[67][68][69]
Sunrise 2022-12-31 GSM With the introduction of S-RAN in 2018 phaseout was postponed to 2022.[70][71][72]
Swisscom 2021-04-07 GSM Official shutdown date was on 2020-12-31 (guaranteed availability).[73][74][75]
 Taiwan Chunghwa Telecom 2017-06-30 GSM [76]
FarEasTone 2017-06-30 GSM [76]
Taiwan Mobile 2017-06-30 GSM [76]
 United Arab Emirates Du 2022-12-31 GSM [77]
Etisalat 2022-12-31 GSM [77]
 United Kingdom < 2033 GSM per government statement[78]
 United States
 Puerto Rico
 US Virgin Islands
AT&T 2017-01-01 GSM [79]
T-Mobile 2022-12-31 GSM Shutdown announced. Tentative date of 31 December 2022.[80]
T-Mobile (Sprint) 2022-05-31 cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rev. A (3G) service has also terminated.
Shutdown commenced on 31 Mar 2022.[81][80][82][83]
Verizon 2022-12-31 cdmaOne CDMA2000 1xRTT, EV-DO Rev. A (3G) service will also terminate.[84]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Preceded by Mobile Telephony Generations Succeeded by