What is 2G?

2G stands for 'second generation', as it's the second type of mobile phone technology. The first commercial 2G networks were introduced in 1991.

The first generation of mobile connectivity - 1G - came out in the 1980s and was an analogue telecommunication standard. 2G networks are digital, but both 1G and 2G use digital signalling to connect radio towers to the rest of the mobile infrastructure.

2G introduced data services for mobile, starting with SMS messages. It also meant that digitally-encrypted phone conversations were possible.

Do phones still use 2G?

2G networks are still used in most parts of Europe, Africa, Central America and South America, and many modern LTE-enabled devices still use 2G as a fallback network for phone calls if 3G4G or 5G aren't working. 2G is also still widely used for machine-to-machine communication, such as smart meters.

All 2G and 3G networks across the UK will be closed by 2033.

What are the benefits of 2G?

Even though 2G is slower than 3G, 4G and 5G, when it was first introduced, it had a huge number of benefits.

  • 2G still has the largest coverage footprint in many countries

  • It allowed voice signals to be digitised and compressed, so it was more efficient on the frequency spectrum than 1G

  • 2G introduced data services in the form of SMS text messaging

  • 2G allowed digital encryption for data and voice signals

  • 2G consumed less battery power than 1G, and made mobile handsets more energy efficient

Similar terms

3G | 4G