As carriers make more aggressive steps towards switching to 5G, they are also eager to finally let go of aging technologies and equipment in the process. Some, however, might have been too eager to put up an image of being a leader and pioneer in the industry. That, however, may have ironically cost Verizon some PR points when it tried to shutter its 3G network early. Rather than delay it repeatedly, the carrier will apparently continue offering the service, at least until further notice.
It makes business to let go of radio spectrum that is no longer in use as network operators focus their resources on more advanced technologies. Unfortunately, it may also make even more business sense not to make millions of devices suddenly unusable and bankrupt companies just for that purpose. That may have been the final straw behind Verizon’s decision to delay the shutdown of its 3G network indefinitely.
The carrier has been talking about this change way back when it first launched its 4G network in 2012. In 2016, it put a December 31, 2019 date on that change but decided to delay that to the end of 2020. 2020 has (thankfully) come and gone and now Verizon has told Light Reading that it doesn’t have plans to shut it down at this time.
Most smartphones these days already support 4G LTE networks but those won’t be the ones that will be most affected by the disappearance of 3G networks. The relatively younger IoT industry still relies heavily on it even as manufacturers and network operators try to aim immediately for 5G adoption. Verizon hasn’t disclosed how many customers are still on 3G but it could be a significant number and involve industry heavyweights if it was forced to extend its lifetime this way.
The carrier was perhaps too quick to jump the gun in the first place, as its competitors don’t to be in a rush to flip the switch. AT&T won’t be shutting down its 3G network until 2022 while T-Mobile hasn’t even committed to a specific year for that.