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AT&T will shut down its 2G network by the end of 2016

AT&T has announced that it will decommission its 2G EDGE network by the end of 2016. CFO John Stevens told Wireless Week that the carrier has moved over 6 million subscribers off the legacy network over the last 12 months, with the remaining 2G userbase largely consisting of connected devices.

Stevens said that the cost played a major factor in the decision to shut down the 2G network:

There still is a lot of cost that is left just to operate even a piece of the 2G network. So we are anxious to capture that savings and use it to continue a strong EBITDA story for our wireless business.

AT&T has started repurposing the 2G network spectrum for LTE coverage, and will continue to do so over the course of the year.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • They don't mention what the 100s of thousands of connected devices are supposed to do without it. Many of those have very poor 3G implementation. Also the device makers have been slow to implement LTE because because most of these devices such RFID readers and telematics boxes don't need much bandwidth. This will create interesting problems and opportunities in those businesses. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well, T-Mobile will probably swoop most of them up. Considering T-Mobile has many areas that are GSM/LTE only sites without HSPA, they seem to have a plan to keep 2G alive and well.
  • T-Mobile has converted most of their 2g to LTE. By end of this year it should be completed. Posted via the Android Central App
  • T-mobile has said they are leaving a very small slice of 2g on, they aren't shutting down 2g yet, but they have cut back on the Mhz they dedicate to it and repurposed it for LTE.
    Mostly for M2M customers and roaming customers. which is smart for T-mobile they aren't feeling a spectrum crunch the way AT&T is, AT&T is the slowest carrier in my area, even slower than Sprint, but with better coverage admittedly.
  • Our alarm company swapped out our cell module about a year and a half ago, so at least they were ready. Still, they're sending out e-mail reminders, so I'm guessing not everyone is scheduling a conversion yet. I guess my point is that it wasn't like the hardware companies weren't told about this a long time ago. If they don't have their technology ready by now, it's their own fault.
  • Interesting, there are a lot of areas of the Inland Northwest that still have only Edge coverage...and it's poor at that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This^^^ Posted via the Android Central App
  • I know when I travel to Oregon I run into a lot of areas that are still on Edge. Used to be that way in Idaho too. However, most of the Edge towers here went directly from Edge to LTE, skipping right over 3g. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They probably have plans to upgrade existing 2g sites to lte before they shut them down. I think they have already shut some 2g sites down in my area as well as other areas layered with good LTE and HSPA+ footprint, because GSM won't even find a signal anymore. Meanwhile LTE is working as great as always.
  • They said they are repurpossing 2G networks to LTE. So that is good news for the average smart phone user Posted via the Android Central App
  • The end of 2G is near already Posted with ❤Love❤
  • Guess old ass mpx220 will not work anymore. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So does this mean all older flip/"dumb" phones will be unusable on AT&T in the near future?
  • Yeah, I have to find a replacement for my mom's Doro flip phone. ATT sent out text messages and old fashion letters a month or so back. Posted via the Android Central App
  • T-Mobile still has some 2G to get rid of... maybe they have roaming agreements onto some of this AT&T 2G that is going away. So, this may further help T-Mobile get away from 2G.
  • So what happens to industrial control / home automation / alarm systems that predominantly uses 2G? It's not like you can upgrade those to 3G easily like a phone.
  • Our home alarm system got converted a year and a half ago. Took no time at all. I'm sure that there will be some devices where a conversion is difficult, but ours definitely wasn't hard at all.
  • This is secretly the government trying to stop people from using burner phones Posted from outer space on my Moto X Style
  • Huh? I'm pretty sure you can get 3G burner phones for the same price as any old 2G phones these days. As long as unlocked devices exist and blister packed phones in walgreens etc exist, burner phones still exist.
    turning off 2g has nothing to do with burner phones.
  • Do US power companies us smart meters with GSM telemetry? Posted via my Motorola Startac
  • No, they send a signal back through the power distribution system Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thanx for that. Here in New Zealand they use Vodafone's GSM network so Voda NZ has said that they will keep it operating until 2020 plus..
  • I've used an old 2g Nokia GoPhone for years as an extra biz number. Don't need SMS, and voicemail goes to a Google Voice number. I hope they will offer us cheap replacements. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Cheap 3G GoPhones have been around for ages. You shouldn't have any trouble finding one.
  • AT&T can screw off. I hate that on their own phones you can't choose what network you're on (2G, UMTS, LTE). It's set to LTE. I had to use root and xposed to be able to change it. I'm really annoyed by this news, unless they *immediately* re-purpose them for LTE. The LTE signal at my work is always around -120dBm. It's horrific. Wastes so much battery. At work all I need is to be able to get texts and Whatsapp messages so I switched it to 2G and my signal is always around -70dBm, and my battery is so much better during standby.