what is 2g?


What is 2G?

2G is the Second-Generation of Mobile Cellular Networks and it is based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) standard.

It allowed for Voice calls and for the very first time, gave us the ability to send SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (multimedia messages or simple picture messages) from anywhere at any time.

Compared to call rates, SMS was a more affordable and quick way to send messages across to anyone. Especially if they were not answering their calls, were unreachable, or do not want to be disturbed.


Nokia 3310 2G GSM Phone


Cell phones got their first major upgrade in the 2G era as they became lighter, small enough to carry around, and easier to use with improved battery life.

Nokia, Siemens, and Motorola were among the top 5 phone makers of this time.


2G aka GSM was first commercially launched in Finland in 1991 by Radiolinja (now a part of Elisa Oyj)

It is about 50 times the speed of 1G, starting at 40Kbps peaking at 64Kbps (Kilobits per second) which is about 0.1- 0.2Mbit/s (Megabits per second).


It has multiplexing capabilities that allow multiple users on a single channel.

2G technology introduced Digital Modulation and Packet Switching which opened the doors to higher and better speed connections.

Improved call quality was achieved hence people shouted less during phone conversations as the calls became clearer compared to 1G.




The technologies of the second-generation network are CDMA and TDMA (Code Division Multiple Access and Time Division Multiple Access).

TDMA allows for the division of signals into time slots while CDMA assigns each user a unique communication code over a multiplex channel.


2G technology offers improved call privacy that was not accessible with 0G and 1G. It provided some level of digital encryption between the phones and the cell towers.

Its latency was 500ms (milliseconds).

2G evolved through three Standards starting with 2G-GSM, 2.5G-GPRS, and 2.75G-EDGE.

Explore below a breakdown of their features.




  • In 1991, the 2G-GSM (Global system for mobile communication) Standard was first commercially launched by Radiolinja (now a part of Elisa Oyj) in Finland
  • Digital Modulation was introduced while 1G’s analog became obsolete
  • It used CDMA and TDMA (Code Division Multiple Access and Time Division Multiple Access) for multiplexing and 900Mhz frequency. Worthy to note that a phone’s operation feature must be within the frequency range to access the specified network frequency.
  • These specifications enabled the maximum speed of 65kbit/s
  • It introduced the capability to use SMS (Short Message Service) in addition to Voice calls
  • There was an increase in the quality of voice calls which helped reduce the need to speak loudly during calls
  • 2G provided increased efficient use of Radio Frequency Spectrum which enables more users per frequency band
  • Mobile phones got way smaller and became digitally secure with added encryption between the mobile phones and the cellular base stations
  • When connected to the 2G network, the symbol that appears is the number 2 and the capital letter G together (2G). Usually located at the top right corner of the phone screen beside the signal bars

There was a short phase between 2G and 3G when 2.5G and 2.75G technologies were launched. About two years later, 2G evolved to GPRS as introduced by ETSI in 1993.