Verizon Again Delays Plans to Shut Down 3G Network

Verizon does not plan to shut down its 3G network in the near future, a Verizon spokesperson told Light Reading this week (via The Verge). "Our 3G network is operational and we don't have a plan to shut it down at this time," said the spokesperson, who also added that Verizon will "work with customers to move them to newer technology."

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Verizon's decision to leave its 3G network functional is a deviation from plans that have been in the works for years. In 2012 after launching 4G technology, Verizon said that it would eventually discontinue 3G service.

In 2016, Verizon said that it would shut down its 3G network on December 31, 2019, and it stopped activating 3G phones in July 2018. Though promising to end 3G connectivity in 2019, Verizon ultimately delayed until the end of 2020 to give impacted customers more time to figure out their plans, but now it seems Verizon will continue to make its 3G network available alongside its 4G and 5G networks.

It's not clear why Verizon has opted not to shut down its 3G network, but Light Reading speculates that it could still have a significant number of customers using the 3G technology. Many Internet of Things devices rely on 3G connectivity, such as in-car connected safety features.

Verizon competitor AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network in early 2022 to bring customers "faster speeds and new features." T-Mobile told Light Reading that it plans to shut down 3G over the "next several years" but timing has not yet been shared. T-Mobile will, however, begin requiring phones on its network to support VoLTE by January 31, 2021, which will make some devices incompatible with the T-Mobile network going forward.

Tag: Verizon

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Top Rated Comments

oneMadRssn Avatar
45 months ago

It's time to shut down 2G and 3G networks and move to fully packet switched (IP) networks i.e. 4G/LTE and 5G NR. That spectrum is wasted by keeping these networks alive and results in a worse overall service. A second hand 4G VoLTE phone can be bought for very little money, whilst valuable spectrum is limited and could be far better used if repurposed.
I agree, but people need to understand it's not about consumer cellphones. A lot of legacy devices rely on 2G/3G, which are expensive to replace but critical infrastructure or related to safety.

A few notable examples: elevators, ATMs, security systems. Indeed, related to current events, I wouldn't be surprised if lots of industrial refrigerators being used to store the vaccine have alarms to warn of the temperature rising above a threshold in the event of a power outage that rely on 2G/3G.

I'm all for shutting down 2G and 3G, but we need to make sure all these systems have been retrofitted or upgraded appropriately.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mcfrazieriv Avatar
45 months ago
Why would anyone shut down a network during a pandemic that serves the poorest of people when most people have 0 to no disposable income.

In other news, water is wet.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
827538 Avatar
45 months ago
It's time to shut down 2G and 3G networks and move to fully packet switched (IP) networks i.e. 4G/LTE and 5G NR. That spectrum is wasted by keeping these networks alive and results in a worse overall service. A second hand 4G VoLTE phone can be bought for very little money, whilst valuable spectrum is limited and could be far better used if repurposed.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ELman Avatar
45 months ago
Verizon needs to keep it running until VoLTE covers the same area. I still have areas where Verizon switches to 1x service.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
45 months ago
What they often do when phasing out technologies is they reduce the amount of spectrum allocated to the tech they are phasing out.

I'm betting Verizon has only a small sliver of bandwidth allocated to 3G/CDMA2000 these days, just like AT&T has a tiny sliver allocated to 3G/UMTS. They can even vary this by city and cell site.

So there isn't this massive amount of spectrum waiting to be freed up by killing 3G; this is just because the providers want to save money by no longer having to support their older networks.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oneMadRssn Avatar
45 months ago

Agreed, but this was the whole point in announcing a shutdown years in advance so other options could be put in place like upgrading hardware to support 4G/5G or fixed line internet. If this was sprung on people with a months notice I would think it was ridiculous, but we've known about a shutdown for years and the writing has been on the wall for probably close to a decade.

What people don't realize is there's actually a huge difference between 2G/3G and 4G/5G and it is time to get rid of the former. I expect 4G to stay around for some time as it doesn't have the same cost/extra system complexity that maintaining a 2G/3G infrastructure does.
The question isn't notice, the question is who pays for it. Say the elevators in the empire state building currently rely on 2G for backup comms. The elevator company installed that module and arranged for a service plan with Verizon and Verizon understood it was for critical safety infrastructure and they charged a high rate accordingly, and now the Empire State Realty Trust now pays those bills to Verizon.

Verizon doesn't want to pay to upgrade those elevators, but neither does the elevator company nor Empire State Realty Trust. Empire State Realty Trust might pay for the upgrade if its included next time they have someone refurbish/replace the elevators, but that might not happen for decades. The elevator company has nothing to do with really, they delivered what was purchased and owe nothing. Plus, the elevator company and Empire State Realty Trust don't care about 2G/3G/4G/5G. It's a safety backup comm, the underlying tech makes no difference. As long as it works, that's all that matters. And they've been paying Verizon for a long time to make sure it works and keeps working. Really, it should be on Verizon to upgrade or subsedize the cost of making these upgrades because they have the most to gain from moving everyone over to 4G/5G.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)