AT&T to Discontinue GSM and EDGE 2G Networks by 2017
AT&T announced it will shut off its GSM and EDGE 2G voice and data networks by early 2017. The news, which came via a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, impacts roughly 8.4 million users or 12% of its current customer base that still use older devices and the mobile operator’s 2G networks.
GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications, is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute in the 1980s to provide blanket coverage between European nations. It was a replacement for first generation analog networks and was expanded to support data as well, first via GPRS (General Packet Radio Services and later via EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution).
Mobile operators such as AT&T and T-Mobile started using GSM in the U.S. in the early 1990s.
AT&T started deploying a true 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in September of 2011. The mobile operator no longer offers 2G mobile phones.
AT&T is not alone in its move to discontinue 2G services. This past May, Sprint announced plans to shut off its 2G iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) Nextel National Network by next June. The iDEN network was developed by Motorola in the early 1990s.
On the other hand, Verizon Wireless has not announced any plans to discontinue its 2G CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network, nor has Sprint.
Last week AT&T announced it will acquire NextWave Wireless for $600 million in order to gain additional spectrum. This followed an attempt by AT&T to acquire T-Mobile USA but that plan was abandoned last year and the mobile operator was forced to seek other options. Verizon Wireless is attempting to acquire additional spectrum from a group of cable companies for $3.9 billion.