Difference between 2G and 3G Cellular Network

Cellular Network

Mobile devices are invented for data transmission and voice process communication from one end in the first generation (1G), which are used by fewer populations in the early 80s. The first generation works on analog signals and it has a speed of 2.4Kbps that lacks transmission speed and security. This generation does not support the wireless transmission of data. All these drawbacks with advancements in cellular technologies have led to the inventions like 2G, 3G, 4G, and the latest 5G that works on digital and video transmissions which attracted more users to depend on mobile devices for their services and features in their day-to-day activities.

Types of networks and the year of inventions till date

  • 1G- mid 80’s

  • 2G -early 90’s

  • 3G – mid-2001

  • 4G -late 2009

  • 5G – mid-2022

2G Network

2G network has been officially launched for commercial purposes in mid of the 1990s works on the technology called Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Signals are converted into digital format to provide reliable communication between sender and receiver channels. All the messages from the sender are encrypted for security checks and are sent to the authenticated receiver at the other end. So, 2G devices connected to the internet consume less power with less battery usage.

2G networks support multiplexing which is multiple users can use the channel at the same time providing a data speed of 64kps and supporting a bandwidth range from 30 to 200KHz.The multiplexing feature is supported by technologies like TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access).

3G Network

The 3G network has been launched in the year 2001 in Japan overriding the features of the 2G network. This network is built on the standard protocol of ITU (Internet Telecommunication Union) and provides its services in video conferencing, GPS (Global Positioning System), mobile internet access, streaming multimedia data, smart TV, etc. This generation has better bandwidth and higher data transmission speed between 3Mbps and some devices support till 7Mbps.

Large files of data can be downloaded or uploaded in less time and video conferences with high quality and live streaming of series/TV channels on any third-party application like YouTube, Hot star, and Netflix is possible with the 3G network with high-quality content.

All the recent 4G devices support both 2G and 3G services that switch between one another depending on the signal strength from the base station.

2G Network vs. 3G Network

The below table presents some key differences between 2G and 3G cellular networks −

Basis of Difference

2G Network

3G Network

Year of Invention

Early 1990’s


Technology used

Analog signals with GSM

Digital signals with WCDMA

Transmission rate

The data transfer rate and access to applications are slower at 50,000 per second.

High speed provides better bandwidth with a transmission rate is 4 million bits per second and supports even more.


Installation and maintenance costs are less when compared to 3G

Higher cost than 2GNetworks added with the license fee.

Services provided

Supports voice data and text messages, MMS messages.

Video conferencing, live streaming of events, mobile TV, GPS transfer, etc.


Less security is provided to users of 2G devices.

Provides more security through proper authentication steps for the devices connected.

Upload and download speed

Supports up to 235Kbps

Supports at speed of 21Mbps for downloading data and 5Mbps for uploading process


Services can be accessed at any region

Not accessible to rural regions

Internet provider

Narrowband connection

Broadband and wireless connections


2G network devices are less used now and have reduced users due to a lack in speed, bandwidth, upload and download rate, and services provided. As it uses analog signals, the data transfer rate over the network is very low when compared to the advanced generation of networking.

3G mobile devices are used by most of the population for their services and speed provided at affordable cost. The drawback can be when more users connect to a single station for upload or downloading, video streaming, etc. then speed can be reduced to all the subscribers which may lead to data traffic in the network that could be solved by the network operators. Other issues are that 3G does not provide a reliable network and is still not available in a few regions.

The 3G network has gained popularity among users by extending its services to other portable devices like smart TV, and wireless devices that can be connected to the internet.

As the needs of the customer have increased in recent years, this led to the invention of 4G and 5G networks that support more advanced features than 3G. Modern applications like wearable smart devices, robots, and remote devices are developed and embedded into smart devices for a better future.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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