Verizon will shut down its 3G network next year, following multiple delays
Many of us are excited for 5G to take off, but it’s a bit difficult for carriers to effectively roll out 5G while still dedicating valuable spectrum to 4G and 3G. That’s why most carriers have been trying to phase out 3G, and now Verizon has set a firm date for the shutdown of its 3G network.
“We can now report that more than 99% of our customers are using the enhanced features of 4G LTE or 5G,” Verizon said in a blog post. “With less than 1% still accessing the 3G network. [..] We will turn off the last of the 3G CDMA network on December 31, 2022, months after our competitors have shut off their networks completely. The date will not be extended again.”
Verizon has repeatedly delayed the shutdown of its 3G network over the past few years. The company started planning for the transition in 2012, then said in 2016 that the shutdown date would be December 31, 2019. That was later delayed to the end of 2020, though Verizon blocked new activations of 3G-only devices at the start of 2020. The company said earlier this year that it no longer had a firm shutdown date, but that has now changed.
Most other U.S. carriers have also delayed their 3G shutdown plans to accommodate vehicles, early IoT equipment, and other devices that aren’t compatible with 4G or 5G. T-Mobile has reportedly delayed its 3G shutdown to April 2022, though the company hasn’t publicly confirmed anything. AT&T already requires all newly-activated phones to support VoLTE, and a full shutdown for existing devices is planned for “early” 2022. With many companies still struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic, carriers have been hesitant to leave large businesses (and the handful of remaining customers using 3G-only phones) with dead hardware. Those that are reliant on Verizon now have until the end of 2022 to upgrade their hardware.