In networking tongues, 2G stands for Second generation networks which became popular worldwide in 1991 while 3G is outright its successor, same as 4G is an incremental improvement to 3G. Word reaching our desk indicates that MTN will reportedly soon phase out its 2G network in favour of 3G given the many advantages that accrue to the latter. Of late, MTN Uganda has already been encouraging its users to switch to 3/4G enabled SIM cards.
Everything happening today on our phones doesn’t favour 2G networks; including speed bumps in data, increased support for data capacity, improved quality of service among others which yesteryear 2G networks can’t outmatch. 2G was mainly good for voice and slow data transmission way back in the 2000s but now times have changed, in the new word of YouTube, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, 2G networks no longer have a place.
You might be asking yourself when will this happen? While the exact timelines are not clear, we expect this to happen over the course of the next few years. Some countries like Singapore have already phased out 2G, but this will not be feasible for most carriers world wide.
The switch to 3G, is partly to thank is the ability of telecom equipment vendors like Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson that have standardized 3G spectrum legacy 2G networks spectrum. 2G uses 900 MHz and 1800 Mhz frequencies while 3G initially only used 2100 Mhz, but now 3G can work on the existing 2G bands (900 and 1800).
Rwanda already ahead
MTN Rwanda has already switched off 2G in most parts of Kigali, and we also expect a similar rollout in Kampala once MTN Uganda begins the phase out. Already big yellow’s 3G footprint is among the largest in the country and the switch from 2G to 3G has been imminent but now the time bomb has burst.
The uptake of data services also necessitates telecoms to have faster and well optimized networks to accommodate this influx. 3G should now be the bare minimum while 4G is soon becoming the standard since 5G is for now experimental.
What happens 2G only phones?
Fact. There no 2G only smartphones being made. Its the feature phones that are widely used in rural areas that will be affected by this switch if and when its happens. This is all driven by the mobile revolution where we are seeing the smartphone as the primary device for most people to access internet. The demand is growing exponentially everyday so is the urge for faster networks in order to get the best out of these gizmos.
Its should be noted, that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) gives out spectrum licenses to telecos, but doesn’t restrict them to which mobile technology to use it. The headwind in MTN Uganda’s way might be the Ugandans still holding up on 2G smartphones especially those that graced the market in the year 2008 and below.
(Contributing Authors: Roger Bambino & Remmiegous Ssewankambo)