AT&T previously said that it was planning to start shutting down its 2G EDGE network at the start of 2017, but now the big blue carrier has revealed that the network will be shut down even sooner.
AT&T now plans to decommission its 2G network by the end of 2016. CFO John Stevens says that AT&T has been working to move its customers off the 2G network, with around six million moving off 2G in the last 12 months. The remaining base of 2G users is largely made up of connected devices.
As for why AT&T is shutting down its 2G network earlier than anticipated, Stevens explains that “there still is a lot of cost” to operate a 2G network. AT&T has already started decommissioning 2G in areas where usage has dropped and repurposed that spectrum for 4G LTE coverage, and that’s what will happen with the remaining 2G spectrum as well.
With the prevalence of 4G coverage and device support in recent years, the number of people and products using 2G service has likely fallen quite a bit. As such, it makes sense that AT&T would rather stop paying to operate its 2G network and repurpose that spectrum to improve its 4G coverage, which will be much more useful to AT&T’s customer base.