Verizon previously announced back in 2019 that they will be shutting down their3G network by the end of that year and then eventually backtracked and said it will be by end of 2020. Well, we’re in the first week of 2021 now and it looks like they’re pushing it back to an unspecified date or year. Their spokesperson has said that their 3G network is still operational and that they “don’t have a plan to shut it down” at least at this time.
Light Reading shares that back in July 2019, Verizon said it will be delaying the shutdown from 2019 to the end of 2020 to give customers enough time to switch to a new network or upgrade their device to one that supports 4G and above. But now spokesperson Kevin King said that they will not be shutting it down anytime soon while at the same time, they’re working with customers “to move them to newer technology.”
Basically, this means that they are now still currently operating three separate network technologies, specifically 3G, 4G, and 5G. But actually, retaining 3G is only for customers who are already/still on that network. As of 2018, they have already stopped activating “new” 3G smartphones for its customers and by 2019, they no longer offer 3G prepaid services. While they have not disclosed how many are still on 3G, it’s probably a significant number since they’re working to still accommodate/retain them.
Other networks are also giving their customers enough time to switch to a newer smartphone with AT&T planning to shut down its 3G network by early 2022 while T-Mobile says it will also do so “over the next several years”. According to Opensignal, 83.2% of 3G-only users in the US don’t have a 4G rate plan while 12.7% spend time in areas that cannot be reached by 4G. Only 4.1% of users actually lack a 4G-capable smartphone.
We’ll probably hear from Verizon later this year as to their roadmap for the 3G shutdown. But most likely, we’ll hear more about 5G from them and other carriers as they continue to tout it as the next-generation technology.