Blog Post

Despite the iPhone, It's Still a 2G World

As many in the U.S. rush to snap up the Palm Pre that runs on Sprint’s (s S) 3G network or the new iPhone 3G S (s aapl) coming on June 19, it may be hard to realize that we’re still living in a world where most people aren’t on third-generation wireless networks. A research report out yesterday from In-Stat shows that only 11 percent of mobile phone users subscriptions today are using for 3G networks, and by 2013 that number will rise to only 28 percent. And for people like me, who are keen to see what the Long Term Evolution fourth-generation standard has to offer, the numbers are even more disheartening.

First, Allen Nogee, the analyst who gathered the data, calls both LTE and WiMAX pre-4G because they haven’t been certified as true 4G standards yet by the ITU. Then, he says only 2 percent of the world’s subscribers subscriptions — about 110 million — will be on pre-4G networks by 2013. It’s just a reminder that despite large carriers such as Verizon (s vz) and NTTDoCoMo pushing the LTE envelope, the world is still a big place with billions of cell phone subscribers on old networks.


18 Responses to “Despite the iPhone, It's Still a 2G World”

  1. In Aust we have nat 3g-3.5g. The diferrence is most apparent when streaming vids on 3g v 2g. Hold-the-press 4g is here and nxt will be 5g and the pricey gadgets onne needs to continuously keep-up. Get a good device and stop obsessing. Network and other d/load factors can negate nxt g devices as well…mark

  2. @One Piece

    In asian countries 1 month of wireless data downloads will cost you your iphone and 2 year contract equivalent in dollars and cents.

  3. U.S. is way behind Europe and some asian countries in terms of use of mobile phone technology. It will take a while until the infrastructure is built and 3G is used to it’s full potential.

  4. Constable Odo

    It must have been the vocal minority that were complaining so much about the first iPhone. It was claimed that more than half of Europe didn’t want to buy iPhones because they weren’t 3G. There were an awful lot of complaints from the U.S., too. The first iPhone sold fairly well, but I guess most of Europe was already using 3G. The U.S. wasn’t, but I guess people wanted more carriers to switch to 3G and weren’t happy with the slower speeds of 2G. People were saying that the iPhone was way behind the times with 2G. AT&T could barely keep up improving their network then and are still having the same upgrading problems two years later. Apple and the iPhone are just pushing them to their limits.

    Now there are people complaining that they got cheated with the 3G iPhone because now AT&T is going to move to a faster version of 3G (HSDPA) and only the iPhone 3G S is capable of using that. I think that people just like to complain no matter how good things get. In New York City I’m sure the 3G is barely faster than 2G because the AT&T network is probably overloaded with users and the overall speed is down during peak hours.

  5. 3G I think will spread more quickly than this, because the older networks are aging and struggling to keep up with expanding amounts of smartphones coming into use. Carriers won’t have a choice really, if they want to keep their customers.

  6. I’m more astounded that this report suggests more than half the entire world population owns a cellphone, and by 2013, almost every single human being on the planet will own a cellphone. Or am I reading it wrong?

  7. Iron Fist

    The problem with forecasts like this is: a) it assumes a rate of growth for 2G only based on the trend from last year, and b) it doesn’t really account for the rapid proliferation of 3G and 4G capable devices that are just now starting to flood the US market.

    I think we’ll all look at this chart in 2013 and laugh about it.

  8. I have a first generation iPhone which I have now decoupled from the AT&T network. I use a Verizon MiFi mobile modem which gives me great coverage in Northern California and I surf the web at wi-fi speed with it or with other people wi-fi network. Skype phone calls are clear and very robust. I think this phone will last me a few more years.

  9. After the $300 I spent on my 1st Gen iPhone, I’m not wasting my money on 3G if I can help it. I’d rather wait until 4G rolls around….iPhone or otherwise. I think there at a lot of people who feel the way I do, that their investment in 2G smartphones was significant enough that they’re holding out for a couple more years until they can get more upgrade bang for the buck. I also imagine that many, like myself, just don’t see the cost/benefit of upgrading from 2G to 3G. Yeah it’s faster and yeah it has GPS, but for increased cost of the date plan….not really worth it. My “ancient” 2G still gives me all the apps I need.