how slow is 2G
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How Slow is 2G and How to Put it to Good Use?


The term ‘2G’ is short for second-generation mobile internet technology. It went live in the early 1990s. The GSM standards introduced via 2G served as the launching pad for the more sophisticated networks we use today. But despite the implementation of more efficient and faster 3G and 4G networks, people still get stuck with 2G in the form of GPRS or EDGE in rural areas. 

Getting stuck with 2G in this era can be pretty frustrating because people nowadays use their smartphones to do everything from making calls, playing games, downloading work-related files to watching movies in HQ on streaming services like Netflix, and considering the fact that you need an internet speed between 5 and 40 Mbps to be able to do all these things bring me to the main question: How slow is 2G? 

2G is indeed very sluggish when you compare it to 3G and 4G cellular networks. While EDGE can go up to 0.2 Mbps, GPRS can, at max, kick your internet speed up to 0.1 Mbps. On the other hand, 3G and 4G networks in the UK can offer you an average internet speed of 6.1 and 18.8 Mbps, respectively. 

Now that you know how slow is 2G data network speed in Mbps, we will now let you know how it works, what you can do with it, and how to make the most out of it to ease your pain a bit. 

How do 2G Networks work? 

2G networks use the following three technologies for transmitting information: 

  • FDMA – Frequency division multiple access 
  • TDMA – Time division multiple access 
  • CDMA – Code division multiple access 

Finding these terms perplexing? Don’t worry; once we explain what these technologies do, they will not sound as intimidating as they do now. 

In simple words, 2G uses FDMA to place each call on a different frequency, whereas TDMA allocates a portion of time to each call on a designated frequency. As for CDMA, it gives each call a unique code and spreads it over all frequencies. 

Which Frequency Bands Do 2G Networks Use? 

2G cellular networks are based on GSM and can operate in multiple frequency bands, including 900, 1800, 850, and 1900 MHz. The networks in the North and South American countries, including Mexico, Canada, and the United States, use 850 and 1900 MHz frequency bands, whereas the networks in Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe use 900 and 1800 MHz frequency bands. 

The following table illustrates the region-wise utilisation of frequency bands: 

GSM Standard  Regions  Frequency Range 
E-GSM (Extended GSM) 900  Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe  880-960 MHz 
P-GSM (Primary GSM) 900  Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe  890-960 MHz 
GSM 1800  Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe  1710-1880 MHz 
GSM 1900  South and North America  1850-1990 MHz 
GSM 850  South and North America  824-894 MHz 


What Can You Do On a 2G network? 

After learning how slow is 2G data speed compared to the 3G and 4G networks, you might be wondering what you can actually do with this throttled internet speed. Well, you will be surprised to know that instant messaging apps tend to work quite well, even on 2G data networks. The images may take a while to load, but the text will load up instantly. 

And given how slow 2G data speed is, it is better to avoid opening media-rich websites. However, some browsers allow users to disable images, which will increase the loading time of web pages. But if you really want to browse websites, we recommend using Opera Mini in extreme mode. What this mode does is, it compresses the website’s data to a fraction. This way, the browser will require less data to open any website. 

As for the mobile apps, we recommend using the lite versions of Facebook and Twitter. The reason being that these apps are not as feature-rich as their parent versions. Furthermore, Twitter lite allows users to disable images, which helps time save data and time. On the other hand, Facebook lite also functions well on unstable and slow 2G internet speed. It uses less data by not auto-playing videos or downloading high-resolution images. 

To sum things up, you will not suffer much at the hands of 2G data speeds if you use clever tactics. 

5 Ways to Make the Most Out of 2G Internet Speed Today? 

It is essential to mention that none of these five ways will amplify your 2G internet speed. But considering how slow is 2G in Mbps, you should definitely put them to reduce data usage and try making the most out of your 2G internet speed. 

1. Turn Off Auto-updates 

Go to Google Play Store or AppStore, depending on your device, and turn off automatic updates. You see, the updates are getting larger and larger with each passing day, so they will end up consuming your entire 2G internet speed if you don’t keep them in check. Therefore, you should allow the Play/App Stores to auto-update apps via Wi-Fi only. 

2. Choose Your Browser Wisely 

If you’re the kind of person who likes browsing the internet, you should consider using a browser that can help save your internet data. Like we said before, you can use Opera Mini’s ‘Extreme Mode’ to make the loading speed of your web pages faster.  

Plus, it even comes with an in-built download manager. So, you don’t have to worry about downloading your favourite videos at that very instant as it enables you to resume downloads anytime later. 

3. Disable Auto-synching 

Mobile apps use the internet data in the background without your knowledge to sync their own data. Auto-synching will not make any difference if you’re on a 4G or even 3G network, for that matter. But it can further throttle your 2G data speeds. So, it would be best to stop your apps from auto-synching whenever you’re stuck with a 2G data network. 

4. Disable Media Download from Mobile Apps 

Many people nowadays use instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger to send photos and videos to their loved ones. But downloading all these media files over a 2G data network will ensure you’re not left with much internet speed to work with. 

Both these apps allow the users to disable downloading of media files, so it’s best if you make the most of such features and give much-needed relief to your throttling 2G internet speed. 

5. Use YouTube in Offline Mode 

There’s nothing as painful as trying to watch a YouTube video on a 2G data network. Therefore, YouTube has developed an amazing ‘Offline’ mode that allows users to save videos for later consumption. 

So, it’s best to save your favourite videos at free wifi hotspots while you’re on your way to a place that may not have good network coverage. 

Will the Plug be Pulled on 2G Data Networks in the UK? 

One of the reasons why 2G Data Networks haven’t yet gone obsolete is the M2M (Machine to Machine), and IoT (Internet of Things) devices rely on them to transfer data. Therefore, no matter how slow is 2G data speed or how useless you may find it in this era, it is likely to stick around for a while. 

Another reason is that the energy companies in the UK are deploying smart meters using the 2G technology. Historically, electric meters have an excellent life expectancy, so there’s a good chance that the smart meters will also have a good life expectancy. So, if one considers the cost of replacing all these meters, it is difficult to imagine that the energy companies in the UK will change them anytime soon.  

It could very well mean that the network providers in the UK will not be plugging the plugs on their 2G networks for at least ten more years. 

How Slow is 2G and How Fast is LTE in Comparison? 

You know how slow is 2G data speed in Mbps, right? So, there’s no comparison between the two as far as the speed is concerned. However, you need to understand the difference between 4G and 4G LTE at this point, as many people believe them to be the same. 

When someone talks about using 4G LTE, it means they’re using something better than 3G and weaker than the pure 4G. 

While a pure 4G network can offer you an internet speed of up to 100 Mbps max, the internet speed range of 4G LTE networks will be between 12 and 30 Mbps. 

However, it is essential to mention that the max speed range of 4G and 4G LTE networks can only be achieved in controlled environments. So, you may not experience the same internet download speed in the UK on 4G networks. 

We hope this information will help you make the most of the 2G networks. However, you must be mindful of the fact that this technology is outdated, so you should not expect much from it.

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