Difference between 2G and 3G Technology

What is meant by 2G and 3G technologies? What is the difference between 2G and 3G technology? The answer is quite simple. 2G and 3G are the terms used to denote the second and third generation technologies in wireless communication. In other ways, 2G and 3G are a set of standards used for mobile communications as per the instructions from the international telecommunication union. The increase in demand for communication caused the evolution of various mobile communication standards. Among those standards 2G and 3G are the ones in the dominating part with the mobile communication revolution for past many years. Both of these technologies have been launched almost a decade apart, which are used in different parts around the globe. The second generation technology aka 2G was first launched in Finland in 1991, whereas the third generation or 3G has been first used in Japan in 2001.


2G – GSM technology

SIM CardThe global system for mobile communication (GSM) is also known as 2G technology in the cellular communication nowadays. 2G or GSM is the startup in the digital wireless communication against the existing analog mobile communication technology. The GSM technology which is introduced in 1991 has got an overwhelmed response from the subscribers worldwide, due to which the number of subscribers have reached more than 200 million during 1998. This is the first technology where SIM [Subscriber Identity Module] has been introduced to the world to ensure a high secure and clear communication. GSM uses two technologies namely FDMA [Frequency Division Multiple Access] and TDMA [Time Division Multiple Access] in order to allow multiple subscribers to make calls at the same time. GSM is the first telecommunication standard to introduce the concept of a cell, where a cell takes the responsibility to cover a small area. The GSM technology has a spectrum utilization which falls into different bands depending on the locations. The available bands for Asia and Europe are GSM 900 and GSM 1800 [DCS] and the bands for the areas USA and Canada are GSM 850 and GSM 1900 respectively. The available bandwidth for 2G communication technologies is 200 kHz per user and the air interface data rate is 270kbps.


3G Technology

3G standard is compatible with the IMT [International Mobile Telecommunications-2000] multimedia supporting. The developers had to think about the next generation technology when 2G or GSM is found using air interface data rate that is not enough for high quality multimedia applications via mobile phones. Using 3G technologies the mobile phones are capable of providing the features like video calls, videoconferencing, video streaming, location finding services, multimedia applications, high speed internet etc. The air interface technology or multiple access technique used here is called as WCDMA, which is a varied form of CDMA. The bandwidth rate offered in 3G is 5MHz with high data rates. The spectrum utilization bands available in 3G are CDMA2000, CDMA2000 1x EV-DO that are used in diverse areas all over the world. The data rates offered in 3G are 2Mbps and 384 Kbps for stationary mobile users and for subscribers in downlink respectively.


Even though, 2G and 3G are the standards used in the mobile communication technology there are some notable difference between the two.The main differences are in function, significance and considerations.



The 2G networks are primarily used for the transmission over voice, whereas the 3G networks provide an additional advantage of data transfer. 2G is the communication technology intended to provide the mobile communication over voice and 3G is a specific one with enhanced capabilities to provide facilities other than voice to mobile users.



Comparing with 2G technology, the 3G technology offers a much higher level of security. The 3G networks use authentication procedures to communicate between devices. 2G uses A5 ciphering algorithm for security, where 3G uses a more secure encryption method KASUMI encryption.



Per the CDMA development group it is noted that the 2G systems a wide range of frequency in both higher and lower which causes in the creation of a system that has signals reaching the cell towers taking much time than the normal timing. In addition to the add on data transfer facility there are many other facilities available to 3G networks such as mobile TV, video transfers and GPS systems. The signal system in 2G is dependent on conditions such as weather. Well, the 3G networks have a disadvantage of being not available in many of the places.


There are many other difference between 2G and 3G networks as stated below.

The 2G or GSM air interface data rate is 270 Kbps where 3G permits 2Mpbs for stationary mobile and 384 Kbps for moving. The multiple access technology used in 2G are FDMA and TDMA where 3G uses some variations of CDMA such as WCDMA, CDMA2000, CDA2000 1X EV-DO etc.

  • Madhavi

    Before reading this I was thinking CDMA an outdated technology… but its not much popular..though its nice attempt to find the difference between 2G and 3G.. good read

  • pallavi

    before reading this description i had very little bit concept of 2g and 3g Tech….but after reading this description now i have good concept…nice difference…..

    • Sachin