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We're providing this update in case you missed our earlier blog post, or maybe just need a quick refresher. Two years ago, we posted Exploring 2G/3G Sunsetting and how Developers can Prepare for it, detailing the sunsetting of services and equipment that support 2G/3G cellular connectivity. Many 2G and 3G networks are already shut down, so revisiting your apps or devices that use 2G/3G is more urgent than ever.
Where We Are Right Now
The rapid global expansion of 4G and 5G has mobile network operators (MNOs) freeing up spectrum to be repurposed for faster and more efficient technologies. The result is the retirement, or sunsetting, of services and equipment that currently support 2G/3G cellular connectivity. We are now at the crossroads of this process, as shown in the figure below.
What's Happened and What's Coming…Fast!
Since our 2020 blog post, 124 networks have been shut down, and the pace is only increasing. By 2026, based on planning reports from MNOs and the GSMA, expect another 106 networks sunsetting 2G/3G services across the globe.
A few significant 2G/3G sunsets that have happened are:
- US: Verizon Wireless shut down its 2G at the end of 2020
- India: IDEA India and Airtel shut down 3G as of March of 2020
- China: China Mobile shutdown 3G at the end of 2021
- US: Sprint sunset their 2G in December of 2021 and their 3G in March of 2022
- US: AT&T just phased out its 3G as of February 2022
A few critical sunset dates rapidly coming up are:
- US: Verizon 3G shutdown by December 2022
- US: T-Mobile 3G shutdown by July of 2022 and 2G by December 2022
- India: Vodafone 3G shutdown sometime in 2022
- Vietnam: Countrywide 2G and 3G shutdown planned for 2022
- Croatia: T-Mobile 3G shutdown at the end of 2022
- Denmark: TDC 3G phase-out starts at the end of 2022
- Germany: Telefónica / O2 3G shutdown by end of 2022
- United Kingdom: BT (EE) 3G shutdown by the end of 2022
- Saudi Arabia: STC 2G and 3G shutdown by the end of 2022
What To Do Right Now
Here are some steps that you can do right now to help get ahead of this:
- First, check the latest status of all global 2G/3G coverage at A Complete Overview of 2G & 3G Sunsets. However, it's best to always check with the MNOs in your geographical areas for your local shutdown dates or last activation dates.
- Shut off your inner procrastinator. Start your migration plan now to give yourself enough breathing room to do things like deploying future-proof solutions or perhaps even re-think your current network connectivity completely. An excellent place to start is with our FAQs for IoT Connectivity Options.
- Take an inventory of your mission-critical devices that impact your ability to provide your service and check the specs to see if they are tied to 2G/3G. Check for fallback modes as some of the early-generation LTE data devices will drop to 2G/3G for SMS as a backup.
- At a minimum, revisit all your test plans and make necessary updates so you can handle the disappearance of 2G/3G availability gracefully (i.e., ensure your app or service doesn't just crash).
- Ask for help. Search out organizations in your region that offer leadership and guidance with sunsetting (i.e., your MNO). They are there to help and have a vested interest in your successful migration.
Some Final Thoughts
As you decide how to manage the upgrade or redevelopment of your 2G/3G products and services, it's essential to keep in mind that the 4G sunset is inevitable. For example, Sprint's 4G LTE network is set to be phased out in the US by June of 2022. Of course, the rollout of 5G is in full swing and growing, and solutions from QTI will see you through to 5G and beyond.
To help evaluate your options, is everything you need to know about 5G with our 5G product offerings that range from stand-alone 5G modems to SoCs with integrated 5G. Beyond the increase in bandwidth and lower latency, 5G is also the foundation for advanced capabilities in mmWave, private networks, wireless edge, and many more key technologies.
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