Verizon Wireless, one of the big three carriers in the U.S., has once again delayed the planned shutdown of its 3G network.
In late 2019, Verizon spokesperson Howie Waterman told LightReading that the carrier planned to shut down its 3G CDMA network by the end of 2020. Now the carrier has backtracked on those plans, with Verizon spokesperson Kevin King telling LightReading that the carrier no longer has a set date on when it will wind down its 3G service.
Verizon has been working to shut down its CDMA network for a couple of years now. In 2016, the carrier warned customers that 3G service would end on December 31, 2019, but the company decided to delay the shutdown to the end of 2020 to give customers more time to upgrade. Given the economic hardships millions are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s welcoming to hear that affected customers will have more time to keep their old devices and plans. However, LightReading reports that the carrier plans to shutter the network as soon as possible, so customers still stuck with older devices and plans will eventually be forced to upgrade.
Fortunately for customers, network speeds have increased dramatically since the days of 3G. Earlier this year, Verizon flipped the switch on its sub-6GHz 5G network, bringing 5G access to millions of customers. Meanwhile, the carrier’s even-faster millimeter-wave 5G network was expanded to cover parts of 61 cities by the end of 2020. In 2021, more and more customers will have access to 5G smartphones as silicon vendors design new, more affordable chipsets.
Unfortunately, the shuttering of 3G will also affect businesses that use Verizon’s network for their IoT services. For example, LightReading points out that Toyota’s “Safety Connect” service is set to shut down in North America by the end of 2022. It’s likely that other useful services will go offline when the carrier flips the switch on its CDMA network in the near future, but for now, we have no idea when that’ll be.