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Verizon Wants to Shut Down 2G in 2019. The Impact on Prepaid Could Be Huge

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Fierce Wireless is reporting that Verizon has accelerated the planed shutdown of its 1xRTT 2G voice and data network.  The shutdown, which was originally planned for 2021, is now slated to occur by December 31, 2019. That date seems a bit soft. Verizon's Chuck Hamby said that the carrier might keep the network up into 2020 if its customers need more time to upgrade their devices.

Shutting down 2G will have a significant effect on the way the Verizon's network works for voice calls. That's because Verizon's 3G EVDO technology is data-only. Without 2G, the only way to make calls will be with Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

Only Verizon's newest phones support VoLTE so I have my doubts that Verizon will be able to update or replace every single user's non-VoLTE phone in less than three and one half years. Hamby optimistically noted that customers upgrade their phones every 2.5 years on the average. But Verizon's Prepaid and MVNO users present a particular problem. Prepaid users tend to use older, lower-end phones and replace them less often than post paid customers. TracFone, Verizon'd largest MVNO, has millions of customers with 2G feature phones, especially on its TracFone and Safelink brands. Many of the entry level or older smartphones used on Verizon Prepaid and Verizon MVNOs do not support LTE and almost all of them do not support VoLTE.

In order to shut down 2G by the end of 2019 without losing lots of customers, Verizon needs to replace ever single non-LTE phone with an VoLTE capable LTE one. It also needs to either replace or push a software upgrade that enables VoLTE to every non-VoLTE LTE phone. TracFone has to do the same for the millions of Verizon network customers on its TracFone, NET10, Straight Talk, Page Plus, Total Wireless and Safelink brands. Smaller Verizon MVNOs like Selectel, RedPocket and Envie probably don't have the resources to replace customer phones for free and will probably tell their customers to buy a new phone or switch to a different network or carrier.

Although this change will be disruptive for many prepaid customers, the switch to LTE and VoLTE should also bring some benefits. LTE data is much faster than 2G or 3G data. VoLTE will provide better voice quality and will also allow simultaneous voice and data use, which is not available with most recent Verizon LTE phones. The switch to VoLTE should also mean the end to some Verizon MVNOs policy of not allowing LTE phones on their lower priced plans.

Source: Fierce Wireless


35 comments:

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  1. so if you have an older 3G-compatible phone on verizon or on a verizon mvno, and being older meaning it is not 4G LTE, then you only can do data (and maybe text???) but no voice calls because you can't do VoLTE? unless if you use hangouts or skype or whatever other voip?

    may still want to keep my verizon iphone 4s (3G only) on pageplus as a cheap data device. or just put it on a tmo mvno or an at&t mvno since it was already automatically unlocked on the gsm side. yes have tried it out on tmo & att mvnos and it works. verizon may lose a lot of customers who just sign up with the competition on the gsm side.

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    1. To me it looks like it won't affect 3g phones. Only phones with 2g.

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    2. Verizon's 3G technology, EVDO doesn't support voice. Without 2G or LTE, 3G phones will still work for data but will be unable to make or receive calls.

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  2. Very interesting article and it will also be very interesting to see how this all unfolds.

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  3. "VoLTE will provide better voice quality and will also allow simultaneous voice and data use, which is not available with most recent Verizon LTE phones."

    So how do you determine if your LTE Verizon phone will do VoLTE?

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  4. They need to make some VoLTE flip phone of lose thousands of customers who insist on a flip. Tradesmen, seniors, luddites, they spend a lot of $ on VZ now and VZ knows it. ATT has successfully forced some flippers I know to smartphones with the shutdown of their 2G that hasn't even started, so FUD alone can get customers in line if it's communicated well. Sprint may well profit from this.

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  5. A lot of potential changes coming to the wireless landscape in the USA in general.With Att pulling out of 2g gsm completely by next year leaving Tmobile as the sole carrier with true gsm, Sprint's always shakey and uncertain future and the massive consolidation of prepaid in general as the big players of Cricket, Boost, Metro and Tracfone gobble up everything and everyone, it'll be interesting to see who's left standing after all this.

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  6. TracFone sent me a message several months ago that they were shutting down 2g service. Even sent me a new flipphone a month later. This is old news to me.

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    1. That's probably a GSM (AT&T network) phone. AT&T is shutting down 2G this year and TracFone has been replacing users' 2G GSM phones for a while now. TracFone has no reason to replace 2G CDMA phones until they have to in 2019.

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  7. So I guess when Verizon pulls the plug on 2 G, and converts exclusively to sim based LTE technology for both voice and data, you can bring any compatible phone you want, and just get a sim from any Verizon MVNO, just like T-Mobile and AT&T. That will leave Sprint out of the BYOP game, huge disadvantage.

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    1. Sprint won't be a stand alone Company for long. It will either be gobbled up by one of the Cable Co's. Or merge with T-Mobile.

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    2. Unfortunately, that might not be the case (at least at first). On all US carriers, the only way to get VoLTE going is if the carrier specifically gives the OEM permission to include their VoLTE core in the device. For example, if you buy a T-Mobile branded device, it might have VoLTE for T-Mobile, but there's a very slim chance it'll have VoLTE for Verizon. Similarly if you buy an international device. We're basically back to the starting line, being restricted to devices that Verizon specifically approves. (Currently you can use any unlocked CDMA/LTE device on Verizon as long as it has the right CDMA/LTE bands and you have an already-activated SIM card. Even if the phone doesn't support Verizon VoLTE, it'll handle calls over CDMA fine.)

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  8. Solution not in the phones. Solution in the correct plans. take a look page plus. You have to pay $30 + taxes for use LTE phone. As soon as verizon allow to use standard prepaid time + allow to buy data for $10 per gigabyte millions of customers with 2G feature phones going to get new phones

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    1. I wouldn't hold my breath on Verizon doing anything aside from doing the "the right" thing for them. They are a business after all. I was a postpaid customer with them for over 10 years and not once did I feel they appreciated my business. I left my contract with them 3 years ago and couldn't be happier. They have the best network hands down but the worst ethics and business practices.

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    2. I can't imagine Verizon's practices are worse than that of T-Mobile, which is getting away with flagrant censorship of video content, claiming no-data roaming territory as having full T-Mobile coverage, and whose CEO is known to make enemies of First Amendment advocates and to have profanity-laced temper tantrums in public.

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    3. Verizon is shutting down 2G. No data roaming. No voice roaming. Enjoy!

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  9. I take it this will have a negative impact on Sprint customers and their ability Roam onto Verizon?

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  10. It should be shut down as soon as possible so they can investigate 5G service hopley.

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  11. Plenty of time to replace phones by 2019.. Considering normal phone usage of 2 years, anyone buying phones even now, anyway need to replace by 2018-2019.

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    1. The newest of the 5 phones in our immediate family is over 3 years old.

      Your "normal" is not mine, nor many others. 2-3 years is an AVERAGE replacement interval meaning there are many who replace every year and just as many who replace every 4-5 years.

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  12. Your article says Dec. 2019 is about 2-1/2 years away. It's 3-1/2 years.

    That's lot more breathing room for the transition to newer phones.

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    1. You are right, it's 3 1/2 years. I've corrected the post, thanks.

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  13. Am I right in assuming that the Moto G and Moto X "universal" phones won't support VoLTE?

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  14. Maybe they will eventually stop charging extra for LTE devices on their network so customers can upgrade without getting screwed every month.

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  15. Where's my post? This is an outrage!!

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    1. Personal attacks and name calling are not acceptable here.

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    2. What attacks and name calling? My post is about VoLTE on the Moto G and Moto X, which just showed up now.

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    3. I deleted a comment from Anonymous that included name calling. If that wasn't you I'm sirry. There's no way to tell one anonymous from another.

      The Anonymous comment about VoLTE on the Moto X went into the SPAM folder for some reason. Blogger likes to do that with Anonymous comments. I don't check the SPAM folder very often.

      Using a name rather than posting anonymously only takes a second longer and makes comments easier to follow. Just chose the Name/URL option and leave the URL blank.

      I would disable anonymous comments if I could without disabling commenting by name without logging in. I don't want to force everyone to log in in order to comment.

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  16. It's good that they announce changes like this years in advance. Like a responsible large company would. In contrast, the fly-by-night MVNOs entirely shut down with two or three days notice.

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  17. I like the comments about LTE flip phones and the implication for Sprint roaming, those were initial thoughts for me as well.

    I'm not enough of a cell phone fanatic to know the tech details of each network type. Is it possible for them to develop or retool the 3G network to carry voice? Maybe if they disable data over 3G? That would definitely ease the transition as it's been many years since they sold a non-3G feature phone.

    So 1G was analogue, 2G is digital? I'm too young to remember the transition away from analogue, how well was this handled?

    Dennis thanks for the insight on how Blogger works with the anonymous comments.

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    1. EVDO, the CDMA version of 3G that Verizon uses doesn't support voice and Qualcomm, which created EVDO, has ended development of it.

      By the time Verizon shuts down 2G I expect that flip phones that support LTE and VoIP will be available. VoIP roaming should also be available once roaming partners implement VoIP.

      2G technologies are all digital.

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    2. LG has been selling LTE flip phones in other countries for 18 months. Qualcomm processor. Vzw would sell them here if they thought they would make money.

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  18. So after Verizon shuts down 2G, will every phone have to be VoLTE compatible? Will VoLTE work with other network's VoLTE say T-Mobile? that's all interesting and new to me.

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    1. U expect that eventually most operators will support VoLTE. In the meantime, 2G voice roaming should still be available.

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