They said it back in 2011, but now it seems like the start of the slow (and we mean slow) death of 3G is upon us, at least as far as Verizon is concerned. It seems that the carrier has been cannibalizing its old CDMA EV-DO systems to make way for a third distinct LTE network, after launching the first two back in 2010.
Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis more or less confirmed that they are testing LTE on previously inactive PCS bands (as noticed by Gigaom’s resident “network spotter” Milan Milanovic) but said they cannot specify yet which locations are testing them. She also did not indicate a specific date as to a possible commercial launch. But way back in 2011, CTO Tony Melone already indicated that they will eventually shut down 3G to make way for 4G.
However, that future is still a long way off, since 41% of the devices on Verizon are still running on 2G and 3G. While 80% of their traffic is actually on LTE already, you cannot ignore the fact that 2G is still their primary voice network. So it will still take some time before they can actually make do without EV-DO systems.
But Verizon is definitely moving into that direction, as they will eventually shifting their voice traffic into the voice-over-LTE service (VoLTE), which they started offering earlier this year. A few weeks ago, they also announced that by 2015, they will be offering VoLTE interoperability with AT&T, which will be the first of its kind among the US carriers. This is part of Verizon’s goal to have a single network technology for all its voice and data services.