AT&T plans to nix 2G networks by 2017

AT&T plans to nix 2G networks by 2017

Summary: AT&T will be diverting resources from supporting 2G networks as it continues to build out next-generation ones.

TOPICS: Mobility, 4G, AT&T

As AT&T continues to build out its next-generation 4G network nationwide, it would possibly make sense to divert resources from older infrastructures that are becoming less useful.

Case in point, the nation's second largest wireless provider is doing just that with a roadmap to shut down second-generation (a.k.a. 2G) networks within five years.

AT&T quietly announced the shift towards solely supporting 3G and 4G networks through a Form 10-Q quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

Here's a snippet from the SEC filing that explains AT&T's rationale:

Also as part of our ongoing efforts to improve our network performance and help address the need for additional spectrum capacity, we intend to redeploy spectrum currently used for basic 2G services to support more advanced mobile Internet services on our 3G and 4G networks. We will manage this process consistent with previous network upgrades and will transition customers on a market-by-market basis from our Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) networks (referred to as 2G networks) to our more advanced 3G and 4G networks.

We expect to fully discontinue service on our 2G networks by approximately January 1, 2017.

While AT&T asserted that this transition won't have a financial impact on operating results, AT&T does acknowledge there might be some worries amongst its customers utilizing 2G-based devices.

As of June 30, AT&T said that only 12 percent of postpaid customers were still using 2G mobile devices. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T doesn't even sell 2G devices to prepaid and contract customers anymore. Thus, a five year plan might just work out for AT&T as more and more consumers make the jump to 4G anyway.

As a way to alleviate worries, AT&T insisted in the SEC report that it will work with customers to manage upgrades to 3G and 4G devices to reduce any risk of losing these customers altogether.

Topics: Mobility, 4G, AT&T

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Prepaid

    As a prepaid Trackfone customer they gave me a free phone "upgrade" and free minutes to get me off my analog phone (which always worked better then my friends flashy digital phones for being what I wanted, just a telephone!).

    Didn't really have a choice, but overall it was a downgrade. Still ~$100/yr for more minutes than I ever use works for me.

    Wonder if they'll do it again when they close 2G?
  • I wax nostalgic at 2G

    My T-Mobile HD2 gets a day and a half of battery life on 2G. It dies on my way home from work on 3G.

  • Great news! If your a telecom buyer AT&T also wants you to stop by in Texas

    UPS and FedEx should also look to another company or carrier if they design a hardware platform in-house, based on AT&T platforms, a new design (and R&D) would be needed for confirmation of delivery of packages. My VoiceStream phone from 1984 still works on T-Mobile today... It just needed a new battery!

    But, telling customers that they're shutting off their phone in a few years seems like it will create a lot of eWaste I just hope AT&T is able to change all the wireless credit-card-based toll booths, parking spaces, and other M2M devices based on 2G networks that haven't reached investment break-even point. Maybe even some medical devices use M2M.

    Parking meters that use wireless technology to connect, but perhaps next generation parking meters won't use the AT&T Tollbooth with Caps.

    Heck, it was only a few years ago when AT&T told even governments to replace critical communications equipment for law enforcement cars. Remember OJ? No one knew what car to pull over.

    I guess the good news in the last few days however, is that AT&T Oaks Golf Course in San Antonio has some new upgrades, so AT&T executives can fly Fortune 10 Telecommunications Decision Makers out to Texas to play a round of golf and talk about the upgrades to their aging network.
    • M2M, ATM etc.

      My thought are the same, I suppose what they are encouraging is that the others will follow and the M2M, ATM and alike will migrate over the the newer systems. Even if you hold licence spectrum you have to expect to update your equipment occasionally as they change band plans.
  • Default_Mobile Slander :3

    - Raisng a pint O' bitter, for teh sacking O' last bastion O' 90's phone-modem-ism... u 2 4G
    - We teh department store plebians shall dance on no-jobs apple, lead coffins... teh-tee-teh-toe-teh-tum...
    - 4 when teh beaggle-bourds, Raspberries, beagle-bones, panda-bourds, get done playing PC-O'-JR, we teh peoples shall PWN!