2G vs 3G in India – Difference Between 2G and 3G in India

The smaller that technological devices become, it seems the better they are. This is especially true in the…

The smaller that technological devices become, it seems the better they are. This is especially true in the area of mobile phones. In India there have been three generations of such devices, denoted as 1G, 2G and 3G. It won’t be look before a fourth generation, 4G, will be available on the Indian market. The main difference between them is in the technologies that the wireless network adopts. In 2008, MTNL released the first 3G devices on the market and they were sold as 3G Jaboo. Since that time there are about two million subscribers. The deployment of this generation in India was very aggressive – so much so that 3G spectrum auction has now been concluded for private operators.

What is 2G?

As the next step up from 1G, 2G offers more clarity in the voice on a mobile telephone. It makes use of narrow band wireless digital network and permits text messaging and voice calls only. Text messaging in India is known as SMS. With 2G you can take your phone abroad and still be able to call home because it has roaming ability. There may be some limitations, though, depending on where you are calling from or calling to. GSM, CDMA and DAMPS were the first cell phone services to be launched in India in the early years of the 1990’s.

There was another generation in between 2G and 3G, which is called 2.5G. This is the network that is presently used in the country and it has some upgrades from 2G. For example, GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) is part of this system, as is the EDGE technology.

What is 3G?

No matter how good the 2G and 2,5 G technologies were in the digital cellular systems there were still problems that needed to be solved. This is the reason for the development of the 3G technology. This generation uses both packet switching services and wide band wireless networks to make the voice sound so much clearer that you think the person to whom you are speaking is actually sitting right beside you. The use of packet switching enables subscribers in India to send data over their cell phones and it is used to interpret the voice calls.

The voice clarity with 3G technology far surpasses that of the previous generations. In addition, downloading music, games and videos is so much faster. Subscribers enjoy global roaming as well as the opportunity to enjoy video conferencing, video calling, browsing the Internet, watching TV and mobile messaging, known as MMS.

The 3G network is not available throughout India. MTNL and Tata DaCoMo only offer it in select cities, such as Mumbai and New Delhi. Early in 2011, Bharti Airtel launched its 3G network and there are an additional 22 regions that have been identified as candidates to be the next ones to be brought onboard. In the spectrum auction held in May 2010, several other operators were successful in their bids to provide this service and plan to introduce it throughout the country. They are Reliance, Vodafone, Aircel and Idea. Stel is planning to launch its 3G network in some area of Onissa and Bihar.

In Mumbia and New Delhi, customers of MTNL can already access this technology through prepaid and postpaid plans. The cost is ½ paise per second for calls to its own network for local, STD voice and video calls only. Calls to other networks cost 1 paise per second and for 10kb for data transfer the charge is only 1 paise. In addition to these costs, there is an activation fee for the telephone and there are monthly charges. It is expected that the 3G technology will be of particular interest younger subscribers.

Summary of the differences between 2G and 3G in India

  1. 2G allows only voice calls, but 3G allows the transfer of data as well.
  2. The voice is much clearer on the 3G phones.
  3. 3G offers more security in the technology.
  4. There are so many more features available with 3G.
  5. 2G is widely available in India, whereas 3G is available only in certain parts of the country.
  6. Although 3G services are more expensive, MTNL has lower tariffs in hopes of attracting more subscribers.


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