Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  2G or not 2G? That’s no longer the question

2G or not 2G? That’s no longer the question

There’s something reassuring about slightly older mobile phones. I’m thinking here of the type of phones that Nokia used to make millions of. Sure, they had numbering schemes that only those with astrophysics degrees could actively remember, and the screens and early cameras were nothing to get excited about, but there’s a segment of the population that’s held onto their older candybar-style phones for a rather long time now.

From one perspective that’s quite admirable. If a standard mobile phone does everything you need it to do, there’s little reason to simply throw it away. Indeed, some of the chemicals inside the printed circuit boards of the average telephone are very bad news indeed if they’re simply junked. Making the most out of your technology in that context is undeniably laudable.

Equally, the phones of yesteryear often boasted standby times that could reach into weeks, whereas today’s smartphones are often lauded for the simple matter of lasting more than a single calendar day.

The problem for handsets of this type is that they’re very soon going to become completely redundant. Not because we’re suddenly going to stop texting or making calls, mind you, although your high score on SNAKE is probably impressing nobody by now.

It’s just that the underlying network infrastructure that powered these dinosaur devices is for the chop. Telstra’s announced that by the end of 2016, it’ll completely kill its 2G GSM network.

The only exception to this shutdown will be Christmas Island, where (as per Telstra), 2G will remain for the time being. But for everyone else, Telstra will be shutting down access for the very small percentage of users still on 2G-only devices. It’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to suggest that Optus and Vodafone are likely to follow suit relatively quickly, because if the userbase is very small, the costs of keeping the infrastructure going could easily outstrip any revenue made.

An incredibly small percentage of users are still on 2G, it turns out: Telstra estimates that 2G-based traffic accounts for less than one per cent of its total network usage right now, which means that there aren’t that many active older phones still around. If you are still grimly hanging onto your large buttoned greyscale screen, the bad news is that you will have to upgrade when the switch-off occurs.

At that point, only your SNAKE high score will remain, because there simply won’t be a local network that your device will recognise, at least for Telstra customers, although if you’ve recontracted within the past few years, the odds are that your phone is already 3G-ready. If not, the one upside compared to the handsets of old is that a simple 3G phone can be had for a very small sum of money. That’s one thing that has improved markedly since the days when 2G was king, and a lost or stolen mobile phone could see you several hundred dollars out of pocket. These days you can pick up a simple handset for under $50 quite easily.

Where it will be interesting is seeing how the network handles post 2G death. If you’ve had a smartphone jump to a signal indicating “GSM” “EDGE” or similar — and I’ve had that happen intermittently within the Sydney area — then that’s a 2G signal. Before too long, they’ll be a thing of the past, and the remaining 3G and 4G networks will have to fill the gap. Hopefully that’ll mean better performance on those networks, and not a whole new set of coverage black spots across the country.

Share

Recent News

Popular social media destination Facebook made worldwide headlines recently, and not for the kinds of reasons that Facebook might want to be noticed. That’s because for a roughly 12 hour period, access not just to Facebook, but also Instagram and Whatsapp — all services owned and operated by Facebook — consumers worldwide had issues connecting… More 

There’s a well-known test that taxi drivers in London have to sit, called “The Knowledge”, that can take years to pass, detailing just about every street in the UK’s very disorganised capital road system. It’s tough learning that many roads, although it may have side benefits, with some studies suggesting that London black cab drivers… More 

Not that long ago, Apple surprised everyone by updating its line of Mac Mini computers. The Mac Mini isn’t like any other Mac that Apple sells. Where much of its output is in laptops, or the 2-in-1 style iMac computers, the Mac Mini is instead a “headless” computer — a fancy way of saying that… More 

There’s been a lot of speculation around foldable phones in the past 12 months, fuelled by the hype from the manufacturers busy producing devices that can fold from phone to tablet and back again — or even crazier concepts, like phones that become slap bands when you place them around your wrist. That latter idea… More