2012 has marked the arrival of LTE in a big way. While Verizon got a head start with its own network, 2012 saw AT&T really start pushing LTE, as well, and most recently Sprint’s started-up with service of its own. Clearly, LTE is where the industry is heading, at least over the next several years. As more and more of our mobile devices support such high-speed networks, there stands to be diminishing reasons for keeping older technology around. AT&T, for one, is ready to prepare for the future, and has started the ball rolling on the final shutdown of its existing 2G network.
According to the carrier’s SEC filings, it plans to cease all 2G cellular service by the start of 2017, just over four years out. That seems like an eternity in smartphone time, but the carrier’s going to have to get started early to transition customers holding on to older 2G-only handsets to smartphones and other devices capable of at least 3G connectivity.
This is far from the first time we’ve heard about plans to end certain kinds of cellular service; analog cellular finally bit the bullet in 2008 in the US, and Sprint’s planning to close the book on iDEN next year.
Obviously, this is a good thing, and will free up network resources for more efficient, high-speed communications. Still, we can’t help but get a little nostalgic at the thought of no more reliable EDGE data when we can’t seem to get a 3G lock. By 2017, though, maybe we’ll be looking at today’s 3G with the same attitude.