AT&T reiterates previous plans to shut down its GSM-based 2G network by end of 2016, citing need to refarm spectrum
AT&T says network data traffic grew 100,000% between Jan. 2007 and Dec. 2014, and, as such, the carrier needs to shutdown its GSM-based 2G network to shift spectrum capacity to its 3G and LTE networks. The planned shutdown date is Jan. 1, 2017.
According to AT&T, the company “expects to fully discontinue service on our 2G network by approximately Jan. 1, 2017. As AT&T progressively frees up valuable spectrum for our mobile broadband network, we may conclude that some markets or territories need to turn down 2G service prior to the nationwide turn down. In cases where we’re turning down AT&T’s owned and operated 2G network, we’ll communicate with specific details regarding impacted subscribers well in advance of turning down the network and work hard to ensure their mobile communications needs are met throughout the process. We’re committed to working closely with customers to make this process as easy as possible.”
AT&T initially announced plans to shut down its 2G network in mid-2012, noting at the time the move would allow the carrier to free-up vital spectrum assets in the 850 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands to support its current HSPA-based 3G and LTE-based services.
“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,” the carrier noted in a 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We expect to fully discontinue service on our 2G networks by approximately Jan. 1, 2017. Throughout this multi-year upgrade process, we will work proactively with our customers to manage the process of moving to 3G and 4G devices, which will help minimize customer churn.”
The carrier says it will keep customers up to date on its shutdown plans and expects a “smooth transition. It’s unlikely but possible that some 2G customers could see minor temporary service issues while we’re completing this work. We’ll work hard to ensure our customers continue to receive a good network experience.”
AT&T says 2G customers will be able to keep their rate plans, although, “if you upgrade your device, you may need a new rate plan,” which may also require a new contract. The company notes it does have “options available that do not require a smartphone or a data plan.”