2G VS 3G

A quick history lesson


Back in 1995, the 2G digital wireless network was introduced, replacing the analog network launched in 1983. In Europe, GSM (Global System for Mobiles) network technology was used for 2G, with GPRS and Edge data service standards. In the United States, CDMA technology (Code Division Multiple Access) with CDMA One standard was used by carriers for 2G. Since GSM has a higher performance, AT&T and T-Mobile shifted to GPRS (GSM) in the U.S., while Sprint and Verizon remained with CDMA. In Canada, Rogers was the first player to switch from CDMA to GSM (2G GPRS), while Bell and TELUS waited a few more years to leave CDMA network technology.

In 2005, the 3G network was launched. This faster technology was the first to support video. GSM uses UMTS standard and HSPA (for 3.5G, which is even faster), while CDMA uses EV-DO data service. The main disadvantage of EV-DO is that it is limited to data or voice calls only, never both.

The sunset of analog was fully terminated in 2008, meaning that all products inferior to 2G networks became obsolete and stopped functioning.

Since 2012, major carriers have started to gradually sunset their 2G networks to focus on 3G, with full worldwide shut down by 2021

Today, the 4 major US carriers are still divided in both technologies, but Verizon has set a shutdown date for its 2G and 3G CDMA networks in 2021, to switch onto LTE network1. 4G-LTE is the latest evolution of GMS technology.

The big questions

1. Should you switch to 3G now?

2. Which wireless technology should you choose for your GPS devices, since the “technology network war” still remains with CDMA in one corner of the ring and GSM in the opposite one?


Despite a few early transitions in some regions, 2G network coverage remains strong across Canada and the U.S. With that said, because 3G devices are compatible with 2G networks, 3G does have the best global coverage.

2G networks have been gradually phasing out since 2012. On January 1st 2017, AT&T will complete the sunset of their 2G networks, while T-Mobile has committed to a 2G network through at least 20192, leaving Sprint with 2G coverage through 20203. AT&T has already put in place a migration plan for M2M4 since their spectrum reallocation efforts have already begun. European carriers announced their phase out by 2020. Those various dates will force 2G products to evolve to 3G networks, since they will cease to function.

3G networks are optimized for data transmission, which provides a higher reliability. It consumes less power, which improves battery life.

In conclusion, 2G is at the end-of-life, while 3G networks are the best value-proposition for long term application.

We recommend 3G


Both comparable in terms of speed, reliability and coverage, CDMA airtime costs are less expensive, while hardware costs are pricier.

GSM is the most common mobile communication standard used throughout the world. This technology network is compatible with future network generation, such as 4G and LTE. It also has a higher security, since the SIM Card is used for authentication and authorization

Moreover, by 2015 TELUS will shut down CDMA networks nationwide4, while Bell plans for 20175. Why? This is so because they are implementing 3.5G HSPA, and because both 4G and LTE networks will only be compatible with GSM, which represents the end of CDMA network technology in favor of GSM.

We recommend GMS



IMETRIK’s GPS devices are using GSM technology, with GPRS standard for 2G devices, and HSPA for 3G (3.5G) devices.

We recommend our clients to switch to 3.5G devices using GSM today, since 2G and CDMA are expected to become obsolete in a couple of years.

Leading the industry
in 3.5G Technology


  1. DANO, Mike. FierceWireless, « Updated: Verizon Wireless to sunset 2G and 3G CDMA networks by 2021 »
  2. 2G ‘Sunset’ Transition: Cellular Providers to Begin to Whittle Away 2G Network,
  3. Hot Seat: Sprinting to Succeed AT&T’s 2G Sunset,
  4. HARDY, Ian. TELUS aims to shut down its CDMA network in 2015, October 17 2013
  5. NG, Gary. Bell to Shut Down Entire CDMA Network by Early 2017. April 8th 2014
  6. AT&T. It’s time to develop a migration plan for M2M