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. 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 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 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 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).[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).[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.
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 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.
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). 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. Verizon plans to shut down its 2G CDMA 1X network by 31 December 2019. Whereas, T-Mobile US has postponed shutdown of their 2G network until 2020.
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. 2degrees plans to shutdown its 2G network in March 2018.
T-Mobile Netherlands will shutdown 2G services by 2020.
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.
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.
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1st Generation (1G)
|Mobile Telephony Generations||Succeeded by
3rd Generation (3G)