We get asked a lot when the 2G network will be shutdown. In Europe, on the whole, nobody really knows yet. The general consensus is that the 3G network will be shutdown first around 2020 and 2G as late as 2025. In some countries 2G is no longer in operation (USA, Australia, Japan, Singapore…) but this is not the case in Europe.
4G is obviously great for data but until recently many phone masts did not support audio on 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE). Audio on 4G uses a system developed by Qualcomm known as VoLTE. Originally 4G was data only and your phone switches to 2G or 3G for calls. Audio on 4G is really only being implemented now by most networks.
So, that leaves 2G and 3G for handling calls. 3G uses 2100MHz in Europe. In general a higher frequency will result in a shorter range. Also, on the higher frequency bands, your phone is limited by the amount of power it can transmit to 1W. For comparison, on 900MHz 2G your phone can transmit 2W of power giving a better range. The lower frequency of 2G and 4G bands will also penetrate walls better than the higher frequency 3G band. 3G also only has one frequency band allocated to it whereas 2G has two.
3G therefore doesn’t really offer anything anymore. It is slower than 4G for data and the coverage is usually worse than 2G which is why the network space is better allocated to 4G, 4G NB and 5G.
So, should you buy a 3G intercom or dialler? We were developing 3G products but decided to stop simply due to their limited life-span. They will work on 2G when 3G is shutdown but why pay the extra for a 3G unit? There is one reason; in the UK the 3 network only offer 3G & 4G so you can only use a 3G unit on this network. They may continue 3G beyond 2020 for this reason. Also you may find you have no coverage in your area on 2G but there is coverage on 3G. This would of course be a temporary solution for you!
We gave up on 3G and I would not recommend paying extra for a 3G unit. We are developing 4G products but these have many extra complications with VoLTE and network specific frequency bands so our 4G units are taking some time to develop – but 4G is the future! We expect to be first with our 4G diallers and intercoms in Europe.
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