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I was looking at old Nokia 3310 phones, which have GSM 900/1800.

I did some research online from a government website, along with some Google searches, to understand what GSM 900/1800 means. I got a bit lost, but I do understand it is a dual band.

What confused me was that the government website linked above mentions on point one that the 900 MHz band (which is what I assume the 900 means) has been retired since 2001, yet I am certain I have the same model which can still make calls. However, other links have suggested GSM means 2G.

Can someone please clarify this for me?

Update based on comments and answers: But if GSM = 2G, then on the OFCOM website why is 900MHz put in the first point which talks about 1G...? It is like the old Nokia phone is both 1G and 2G or something strange.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Dual band GSM, i.e. can operate at both 900 and 1800 MHz. \$\endgroup\$
    – winny
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 20:33

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GSM 900/1800 means your phone can operate in both the 900 MHz and the 1800 MHz used for GSM, which is, in most places on earth, the second generation (2G) of cellular networks. "2G" and "GSM" are synonymes.

Ofcom is the regulatory body for spectrum in the UK. If they say the 900 MHz has been retired, but you can still make calls with that phone this can mean:

  • You're not in the UK
  • You're using the 1800 MHz band, not the 900 MHz
  • or both at the same time.

There's nothing to clarify here, really!

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to add that I can spawn a GSM network at any frequency between 50 and 6000 MHz if I damn well please, but I choose not to. The local authorities are happy about that choice. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ But if GSM = 2G, then on the OFCOM website why is 900MHz put in the first point which talks about 1G...? \$\endgroup\$
    – questioner
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ who says 1G can't be using the same frequencies? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 20:37
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You're correct in assuming that 900 means 900 MHz. GSM also means 2G (i.e. second generation, not implying 2 GHz), which is consistent. As spectrum needs and technologies evolved, different carriers used different frequencies to support their networks operating using 2G, 3G, 4G, and ultimately 5G technology; it's not implausible that there's backwards compatibility on existing bands in certain cases.

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