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AT&T to Shut Down 2G Network Sooner than Planned

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Back in 2012, AT&T announced that they will be shutting down its 2G EDGE network in 2017. The shutdown was initially slated for January 1, 2017 since AT&T was still moving its customers to 3G and 4G service. Today's report, however, reveals that the carrier is planning to decommission its 2G network sooner than that date.

In an announcement made by its CFO John Stevens, AT&T is said to be shutting down its 2G  network by the end of this year. This means that they have been able to successfully move its customers off their 2G network. In just the past 12 months, they were able to move a total of six million users. The remaining number of 2G users is said to be made up of connected devices.

When probed further on why their decision to shut down the network came earlier than the original plan, Stevens said that AT&T was still spending "a lot of cost" just so a 2G network can be operational. Even though they have already decommissioned the network in areas where 2G is no longer used as much, they are still spending for the network. In addition with decommissioning 2G, AT&T has repurposed the spectrum for 4G LTE coverage. This is something AT&T intends to do with the remaining 2G spectrum too.

Considering there is a strong demand for 4G coverage and device support in the past few years, the number of users and devices using 2G service has also declined immensely. This gives a perfect reasoning as to why it would better for AT&T to shutdown its 2G network and repurpose the spectrum so that its 4G coverage could be largely improved. After all, who still uses 2G in this day and age?


Source: PhoneDog

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28 comments:

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  1. I am confused about 2G vs. throttled 128kb for some unlimited data plan. Does it mean once when ATT close 2G, then those unlimited data plan with throttled 128kb after high speed data used up will no longer be available?

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    1. No, AT&T's throttled data is at "2G speeds" rather than actual GPRS 2G. It is and will continue to be LTE, HSPA or EDGE throttled to 128 Kbps or less.

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    2. EDGE is being shut down too, no?

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  2. Christine, I appreciate and aways enjoy reading your posts. Just as I could never go back to a dial-up or DSL internet connection, in the same vein, I could not image settling for edge speeds in an LTE world. Bring on 5G!

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  3. The days of HSPA+ 3G and 4G are numbered as well (maybe in the next 3-4 years),once 5G and VOLTE become the new standard.

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  4. I still use 2G GSM with T-Mobile's legacy Gold Rewards prepaid plan (as little as $10/year!) So they shouldn't count us luddites out yet.

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  5. Question about the shutdown date: Are you saying that AT&T is shutting down the 2G network *one day early?* End of 2016 versus January 1, 2017? Or, is there a typo in the latter date?

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    1. A previous report says they will be shutting down on January 1, 2017. Yesterday's report says that they plan to shut down by the end of 2016-- they did not specify an exact target date so it could be anytime prior their original shutdown date.

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  6. Is any of this 2g in areas that do not have 4g?

    In other words, will AT&T actually lose coverage doing this?

    Slow coverage is better than none, and definitely better than the 0G speed that T-Mobile and Sprint provide in most places.

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    1. There should be no affect on coverage area. The 2G towers are also 3G, HSPA+ 4G towers.

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    2. There are still AT&T towers that have only 2G data. Anybody can see these areas. Download the 'Coverage?' app, and toggle between 2G and 3G, 4G or LTE.

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    3. "There are still AT&T towers that have only 2G data."

      Yeah, that is what I thought. It might backfire if it means AT&T actually losing coverage: it would bolster Verizon claims that it was the best network, and would narrow the (still large but narrowing anyway) gap between T-Mobile and AT&T.

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    4. Well with AT&T moving the spectrum used for 2G to LTE. The areas on the map that show as 2G, should, once the transfer is done, show as LTE. The spectrum is there, just right now it is being used for 2G not LTE.

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  7. They shut down 2g in zip code 39120 back in December of 2015,

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  8. Where does 3G fit into this whole picture? Will AT&T be shutting down 3G also?

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    1. I'm sure they will someday, but that day is several years away.

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  9. Dennis, why is the AT&T network not entirely 4G? Why are they keeping 3G?

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    1. Voice. LTE doesn't support voice except with VoIP which AT&T hasn't deployed in all markets. Large numbers of AT&T customers still have phones that don't support VoIP.

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    2. "Voice. LTE doesn't support voice except with VoIP which AT&T hasn't deployed in all markets. Large numbers of AT&T customers still have phones that don't support VoIP."
      Did you mean to say VoLTE instead of VoIP or are they the same thing?

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  10. Dennis, does 3G use a different band? If so, isn't that a waste of spectrum?

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    1. Bands 2 and 5 are currently shared between 2G, 3G and LTE. Bands 12/17 and 4 are LTE only. Getting rid of 2G will increase the amount of band 2 and 5 spectrum available for 3G and LTE. Spectrum that's being used isn't wasted. As 3G use decreases AT&T will re-purpose more band 2 and 5 spectrum from 3G to LTE

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    2. Sorry, I meant to say VoLTE. Unlike VoIP, VoLTE is a "carrier grade" protocol which includes QoS (Quality of Service) features that prioritize VoLTE over other uses of data. QoS is suposed to insure that sufficient bandwidth is allotted to calls so that they do not suffer from the drop outs and call quality issues that can occur with VoIP.

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  11. Just added airtime to disabled daughter's Tracfone & was informed that 2G will soon be discontinued. Searched for reason & time frame. What a shock. Her VERY simple phone (& 2 new replacements) will be obsolete & useless. Our alternative to "free gov't" service was inexpensive (120min/90day-text, data are above her level) and reliable. Are there any other choices available? As an added bonus, both sets of grandparents will also be losing service.

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    1. "Are there any other choices available?"

      There are many choices available. AT&T isn't going out of business. Neither is Tracfone. You may have to upgrade phones when they upgrade the network, if you have an obsolete phone. Like when cellular phones switched from analog to digital. When broadcast TV switched from analong to digital. When 2400 baud modems became obsolete. Etc.

      The good news if you're on Tracfone is you can probably get a replacement phone for $10 or less when the switch happens.

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  12. I dont do anything but make and receive calls and on rare occasions a text. I have no use or desire to use a phone for anything but that. I have a very small old Nokia 1600 phone that works as good as it did when it was brand new and would like to know if it will still make and receive calls after the 2G shut down thing. Any1 know about this old phone?

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    1. Use it until it stops working.

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    2. Your Nokia 1200 will no longer work on the AT&T network after this year. If it's unlocked you could use it on T-Mobile for a few more years.

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