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Thread: Difference Between 2G and 3G

  1. #1
    itsmemad's Avatar
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    Sep 2008

    Default Difference Between 2G and 3G

    You may wonder: what's the difference between 2G and 3G? Telecommunication companies certainly aren't overly concerned with helping you to understand. Hence, it's not uncommon for someone to not understand the advantages of 3G over 2G. The aim of this informative article is to clear up that confusion once and for all by clearly explaining the difference between 2G and 3G.

    First, a bit of background information. 2G refers to second-generation of cellular wireless telecommunication technologies. 2G is a fairly old standard; the first 2G network was established in Finland in 1991.

    3G, on the other hand refers to the third-generation cellular wireless telecommunication technologies; in the US, 3G refers to the CDMA2000 standard, established in 2002. The difference between 2G and 3G should be becoming apparent at this point - 3G networks possess substantially greater utility than 2G; broadcasting at longer distances, granting more throughput and substantially higher speed.

    2G networks are fairly basic in terms of functionality. They're intended to transmit voice data in real-time and not much else. Very lousy codecs are used to encode the voice data, compensating for the relatively low bandwidth of a 2G connection. As a direct result of this, it's hard to hear subtle intonation in someone's voice over a 2G cell phone connection. 2G networks can support other features but they're limited by low bandwidth and slow speeds; features like internet connectivity are typically reduced to slowly loading very basic content; and even with modern Smartphone level hardware, it would be a real pain to try and download large apps. 2G as a standard is largely obsolete in the United States, and realistically you won't be getting a 2G plan unless you have old hardware which you specifically want to use. However, 2G still sees substantial use in developing nations like India due to its much lower cost of operation and use.

    3G networks are far more advanced mobile communication networks, featuring download speeds of up to 14.7 Mbps downstream at this point of time with room for improvement in the future. These considerable speeds can be used for advanced features which are either impossible or at least difficult to use on 2G networks. For telephony, a 3G connection's greater speed and bandwidth substantially improves the quality of voice communications. Furthermore, things like full-featured web browsers, streaming video, complex apps, movie and music downloads or real-time upload of photos taken to social media become possible.

    The difference between 2G and 3G should be clear then: 2G is the last-generation standard which doesn't support complex features used in modern cell phone hardware, whereas 3G is a modern standard with broadband-quality speeds that can be used for implementing much more features. 3G isn't even limited to cell phone use- its considerable speed allows 3G connections to be useful in PCs, Gaming Consoles, Tablets or any other portable device which could benefit from a constant internet connection. In contrast, 2G connections aren't any faster than dial-up; their utility is entirely limited to telephony. 3G is a full-fledged mobile broadband system, usable for much more than telephony and it only looks to improve from here.

    Hopefully this article helped the reader to understand the difference between 2G and 3G, allowing you to make an informed purchase decision on your next mobile broadband plan.
    just4kix likes this.

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    Junior Member

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    Mar 2012


    Very informative post
    nice explanation Thank you for sharing this article.

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