What Is 2.5G Cellphone Technology?

Interim 2.5G technology introduced efficient packet-switching tech

Lady using an iPhone 3G.

In the world of cellphones, 2.5G wireless technology was a steppingstone that bridged second-generation (2G) wireless technology and third-generation (3G) wireless technology. While 2G and 3G are formally defined as wireless standards, 2.5G is not. It was created for marketing purposes.

As an interim step from 2G to 3G, 2.5G saw some of the advances inherent in 3G networks including packet-switched systems. The evolution from 2G to 3G ushered in faster and higher-capacity data transmission.

Evolution of 2.5G Technology

In the 1980s, cellphones operated on analog 1G technology. Digital 2G technology first became available in the early 1990s on the global system for mobile communications (GSM) standard. The technology was available as either time division multiple access (TDMA) or code division multiple access (CDMA). Although 2G technology has been superseded by later technology, it is still available around the world.

Interim 2.5G technology introduced a packet-switching technique that was more efficient than its predecessor. Its infrastructure could be used on an as-needed basis rather than on a per-minute basis, which made it more efficient than 2G technology. The 2.5 technology was followed by 2.75G, which tripled theoretical capacity, and 3G technology in the late 1990s. Eventually, 4G and 5G followed.

2.5G and GPRS

The term 2.5G is sometimes used to refer to General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), which is a wireless data standard used on GSM networks and was the first step in the evolution of 3G technology. GPRS networks eventually morphed to Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), which is the cornerstone of 2.75G technology, another incremental advancement that is not a wireless standard.