With how much Verizon has been hyping its 5G capabilities of late, some might be surprised to learn that the carrier's 3G network is still in operation. And what might be even more surprising is that, despite past statements about scheduling a shutdown, Verizon is now saying it has no pending plans to retire 3G.
In a statement shared with Light Reading, Verizon spokesperson Kevin King said the company's 3G network remains in operation and that there is no "plan to shut it down at this time." If/when that time does arrive, King stated that Verizon will "work with customers to move them to newer technology."
What's a little confusing is how wishy-washy the carrier has been with these plans. When 4G was introduced in 2012, Verizon alerted customers that it would discontinue 3G service at a later date, and eventually set December 31, 2019 as the target. And indeed, the carrier has taken some steps towards getting there, like how it hasn't allowed the activation of new 3G phones for years now. When 2019 rolled around, however, the schedule shifted back a year, with the company indicating that 3G customers would have until the end of 2020 to continue using the service.
This latest statement may seem like a good thing for those who rely on 3G service — Opensignal reported last year that 12.7% of 3G-only users reside in areas where 4G does not reach — but Verizon backing down from the scheduled shutdown means that its users won't have any idea how long to expect support to continue, making it that much more difficult to plan for their wireless future. Verizon could keep 3G going for another year — or it could pull the plug next month.
- Light Reading