AT&T has officially shut down its 2G network, will pursue 4G LTE, other tech

att gophone device discounts headquarters hq sign logo symbol phone company corporate store
Robert Wilson/123rf
It’s the end of an era: On January 1, AT&T finally, officially shut down its 2G network.

“To help support the massive growth of mobile internet usage and free up spectrum for newer technologies, we discontinued service on our 2G wireless networks January 1, 2017,” AT&T Chief Strategy Officer and Group President John Donovan wrote in a blog post. “The retirement of our 2G network … is part of our 5G Evolution, which includes continued deployment of our 4G LTE and other technologies in the years to come.

AT&T says it will uses the newfound spectrum for “future technologies network technologies,” including 5G and LTE. “In the next few months, we plan to repurpose that spectrum for LTE.”  And the firm will bolster its HSPA-based 3G network, which handles the carrier’s voice traffic not traveling over its LTE network.

“Newer, faster technologies will improve the wireless experience,” he wrote. “IoT customers will be able to better serve their customers with improved applications and solutions because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network. Mobility customers will enjoy faster speeds to share photos and watch video.”

AT&T says that since 2007, data usage on the network has grown by 250,000 percent.

The shutdown will impact some of AT&T’s existing subscribers, but the carrier says it made an effort to migrate those affected well ahead of the January shutdown. Of the 4 million connections on its 2G network as of the third quarter of 2016, the company managed to migrate around 2 million accounts.

As The Verge points out, the shutdown of AT&T’s 2G network means that the first-generation iPhone will no longer receive service.

And neither will the San Francisco Muni bus and train system, NextMuni. The legacy network, which the city used to predict the arrival times of buses and trains, relied on AT&T’s last-gen wireless. Muni vehicles without upgraded systems don’t show on NextMuni, a problem San Francisco transit officials believe could take weeks to solve.

“Prior to the shutdown, we communicated frequently with our customers about upgrading to newer technologies,” Donovan said. “And we wanted it to be easy to do, so we offered discounts and free devices to eligible customers.”

Rival T-Mobile responded to the shutdown last month with a new promotion. It’s offering AT&T Mobility IoT customers free SIM cards, free 2G service through the end of the year, and up to 50MB of connectivity per device each month. And it is promising support for 2G services through 2020, and to provide LTE modules to those who seek long-term support.

Verizon has pledged to shutter its 2G network by the end of 2019. But its decision hinges on the migration of voice traffic to LTE-based VoLTE service.

AT&T first announced plans to shut down its 2G network in 2012.


Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. S10 Plus vs. S10e vs. S10 5G: Which should you buy?

With four stunning Galaxy S10 phones to choose from, Samsung is bombarding us with choice, but which one should you buy? We compare the S10, S10 Plus, S10e, and S10 5G in various categories to find out exactly how they differ.

Samsung goes big with the next-gen Galaxy S10 5G smartphone

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.

Singapore Airlines passengers unsettled by cameras in seat-back displays

A number of passengers flying with Singapore Airlines recently expressed concern over cameras embedded in seat-back displays on some of its aircraft, though the carrier insists the devices have been disabled.

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.

Google’s radical Gmail redesign is finally rolling out on Android

Google is slowly but surely giving its apps a refresh, modernizing them and ensuring that they're easy to use. The latest app to get a redesign is the Gmail app for Android, which has been redesigned with a few tweaks.
Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Health & Fitness

Nike’s Android app is bricking its $350 Adapt BB self-lacing shoes

A firmware update for Nike's new self-lacing Adapt BB shoe appears to be bricking the $350 footwear for some owners. Android users have said the Nike app no longer pairs with the shoe, rendering the tightening mechanism useless.

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.