While AT&T prematurely scared its customers about the upcoming shutdown of its older 3G network, Verizon has recently decided to take things slower by delaying the shutdown of its 3G service indefinitely.
Verizon spokesperson Kevin King told Light Reading that the carrier’s 3G network “is operational and we don’t have a plan to shut it down at this time. We’ll work with customers to move them to newer technology.”
Previously, Verizon had intended to start turning off parts of its 3G network at the end of 2019, following a decision to stop activating new 3G phones in 2018. However, after some pushback, Verizon later revised its plans to begin shutting down of its 3G network until the end of 2020, a move that has now been delayed even further.
According to Statista, while only around 5% of phone users still rely on a 3G connection, the problem is that a number of those customers live in remote areas and rely solely on older 3G networks for cellular coverage. As carriers continue to expand their 4G LTE and 5G networks, many are hoping to convert some of the spectrum devoted to older 3G service to their newer and faster 4G and 5G coverage.
So while Verizon’s plans to begin shutting down its 3G network have been delayed for now, make no mistake, it will happen eventually. T-Mobile is in the same boat: The carrier currently doesn’t have a specific timetable for when it will begin shutting down its 3G network, only saying that it will happen sometime “over the next several years,” though recently T-Mobile did announce that in order to active a new line with T-Mobile, customers “will need a VoLTE capable device.” And as for AT&T, while it too recently delayed plans to deactivate portions of its 3G service, the carrier has said it will start shutting down parts of its 3G network sometime in “early 2022.”