2G (or 2-G) is short for second-generation cellular network. 2G cellular networks were commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj) in 1991.
Three primary benefits of 2G networks over their predecessors were that:
- phone conversations were digitally encrypted.
- significantly more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum enabling more users per frequency band.
- Data services for mobile, starting with SMS text messages.
2G technologies enabled the various networks to provide the services such as text messages, picture messages, and MMS (multimedia messages). All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing the transfer of data in such a way that only the intended receiver can receive and read it.
After 2G was launched, the previous mobile wireless network systems were retroactively dubbed 1G. While radio signals on 1G networks are analog, radio signals on 2G networks are digital. Both systems use digital signaling to connect the radio towers (which listen to the devices) to the rest of the mobile system.