At the end of last year, Google added a switch to the Android operating system that will allow turn off the phone ‘s connection to the 2G network. However, the function depends on the operator in connection with specific phones. Newer Pixels as well as newer top models from Samsung are among the first models to turn off 2G networks. We haven’t seen the switches in the Czech Republic yet, we only have information that the first swallows are operators in the USA. But what is it good for? 2G network shutdown?
In the Czech Republic, 2G networks were launched 26 years ago, so it is a very old technology that already was overcome several times. In the Czech Republic, the O2 operator must have operated it for at least another 7 years, ie if the share of users using these networks does not fall below 5 percent. This spectrum includes senior or very old telephones that can call text messages and are not supported by networks other than 2G.
Newer generations of networks are more secure
However, over 26 years ago, standard setters did not anticipate possible crisis scenarios that may threaten phones today. Over time, it has been discovered in 2G networks a number of vulnerabilities. The biggest is the weak level of encryption between the BTS and the phone, which a potential attacker could theoretically break in real time to intercept calls or text messages. The second potential risk is the absence of authentication from the BTS to the telephone. You can be a potential intruder impersonate a 2G transmitter, and the phone may have no idea.
Sure, most of the shortcomings have been fixed in 4th generation networks, but there are network elements that can “force” the phone to switch to a 2G network, so all of a sudden more susceptible to possible network attacks. For some, this is a possible utopia, but with regard to better connectivity, it is advantageous in many cases stay on newer networks.
Androids are set to connect by default to the highest available network technology… V Settings – Connection – Mobile networks (or Settings – Networks and the Internet – SIM card) you can set your preferred network mode. The highest mode for 5G phones is 5G / LTE / 3G / 2G, so the phone is primarily looking for a 5G network, and if you can’t find it nearby, it will try to connect to LTE, then 3G, etc. At the very bottom is a 2G network, which is mobile connectivity is more of an “emergency” issue. You can recognize the connection to the 2G network thanks to the “éčka” symbol in the top bar – this is the connection via Edge technology (data layer of the 2G network), when the speed of mobile data is reduced so significantly, as if the data suddenly stopped working …
Somewhere, 2G is the only alternative to calling
For users of older phones or those who live in remote areas, the 2G network is also crucial for making calls. For fourth generation networks, calls can be made via Times (Voice over LTE), which can also be selectively deactivated in your Android settings. In that case, when dialing the number, the network again “falls” on 2G for a short time.
In the US, however, operators are starting to offer users blocking 2G networks, for compatible phones, a check mark appears in the settings, which quickly turns off 2G networks for the modem. However, some phones display an unbreakable notification that when 2G networks are turned off Emergency calls may not be available, however, there is no such restriction on other models. The risk of unavailable emergency calls when switching off 2G networks is not yet considered uniform.
Playing with networks only for more experienced users
We don’t have this option yet, but you can help with the Netmonster application you have download from Google Play. In the application you can see what type of network and frequency you are currently connected to. In addition, you can go to your phone manufacturer’s Service Menu from the three-dot bottom menu and edit networks in it, you want to connect to, or even restrict the connection to selected LTE frequencies.
With the Galaxy S21 Ultra we have an active automatic network mode, which you can limit to GSM, 3G, LTE or leave only 2G + 3G or 3G + LTE and above. Available items will vary from phone to phone, if you want to turn off 2G networks for our phone, you need to use WCDMA / LTE mode.
If you would like the full form of the service menu, go to the item in the application Phone info to complete service network information where you set up preferred network mode. However, there are far more items than in the previous offer. This is a universal list, which also includes networks that are not available in our country. We therefore recommend changing the network settings for experienced users only, and of course at your own risk. We have not yet verified whether emergency calls will work even when the 2G networks are switched off.