April 28, 2016
The mobile industry has evolved at a significant rate over the last several years, and not just in terms of hardware. Not only have our phones gotten smarter, our networks have also improved with the advent of higher-speed connections. Things aren’t slowing down anytime soon either, as 5G is already on the radar for many of the big US networks. But what about those legacy, slower networks, are they worth keeping around? At least for AT&T’s part, the answer appears to be “no”, as the carrier is preparing to shut down its 2G EDGE network by the year’s end.
AT&T has actually been transitioning its customers off the 2G network over the last year, with roughly six million customers being moved off the 2GB base in that time. The remainder of devices still rocking 2G EDGE are connected devices, but even these are starting to make the shift to 3G and beyond.
So what happens to the 2G network once it is shut down? AT&T will refarm the spectrum and repurpose it with the aim of providing faster network speeds for its customers. Of course the reason for the shutdown isn’t just because 2G is a bit too slow for today’s users, it also comes down to a matter of costs.
According to AT&T CFO John Stevens:
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 is far from the only network moving away from 2G. T-Mobile began a similar move back in early 2014, moving away a portion of it 2G network in favor of deploying LTE to more areas. Verizon has also committed to shuttering both its 2G and 3G networks by 2021, leaving behind these older standards in favor of modern LTE.