Is the GSM network 2G or 3G

That is why the GSM network remains important in Germany

GSM must remain for the time being
Logo: GSM Association, Photo / Montage: The UMTS networks of Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are to be switched off on June 30th and Telefónica also wants to say goodbye to the 3G standard by the end of the year. The three German mobile network operators are again sticking to the GSM network. This technology is 30 years old and out of date from today's perspective.

As part of the 5G standalone test that we were able to carry out in Frankfurt am Main, Vodafone employees explained why it is initially not possible to switch off both UMTS and GSM in the short or medium term. eCall, the automatic emergency call that has been mandatory in new cars for three years, requires at least one of the two older cellular network standards.

eCall, M2M and basic supply

GSM must remain for the time being
Logo: GSM Association, Photo / Montage: teltarif.deeCall is therefore designed for GSM and UMTS use. However, the system is not compatible with LTE or even 5G. If the network operators were to switch off the GSM network in addition to UMTS, the eCall function available in all newer vehicles would be without a network connection. This is of course not responsible, so that the 2G standard cannot be switched off in the long term.

Numerous M2M applications still use the GSM network. Swisscom in Switzerland, which has now adopted the 2G standard, has proceeded a little more skilfully here. Affected customers were informed of the planned step five years before the planned GSM shutdown - giving the companies enough time to upgrade their technology.

In addition, the GSM network is available almost everywhere in Germany. It thus provides basic coverage in areas where LTE and 5G have not yet been expanded. The old standard is definitely sufficient for phone calls and the exchange of SMS messages. Internet access via GPRS and EDGE, on the other hand, is very slow, but at least also available.

Vodafone: GSM included in network modernization

As Vodafone further explains, the company took the GSM standard into account in the modernization of the cellular network carried out from 2014 to 2016 and brought the technology, some of which is more than 20 years old, up to date. Telekom and Telefónica also told their colleagues at Golem that they would continue to offer GSM in the years to come.

The situation is different with the planned fourth German mobile network. 1 & 1 Drillisch will concentrate entirely on the newer network standards LTE and 5G.