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3G’s Death Knell Rings

On February 18, AT&T officially announced the end of its 3G wireless services. By early 2022, the second-largest carrier in the U.S. will retire all of its 3G bands according to a regulatory filing. Verizon is moving even faster — support for its 3G devices will end by the end of this year.

These wind-downs are happening largely due to the advent of 4G LTE networks and the massive investments all major U.S. carriers, including Sprint and T-Mobile, are making into them. Today, data download speeds are nearly 10x faster than 3G’s peak performance rates — and these networks will only continue to roll out new and improved capabilities.

As data becomes more of a necessity for personal and business users, more reliable network speeds and unlimited data plans have certainly changed the face of how wireless carriers will continue to provide network support. With 5G speeds starting to zoom through cities across the country soon (Verizon is planning 30 cities by the end of 2019), 3G’s support will continue to wane in the face of a new and improved wireless data delivery systems.

However, some carriers are still holding onto their 3G bands. Sprint and T-Mobile have both remained silent regarding plans to end their 3G service offerings. However, it may just be the wait for final regulator confirmation on their more than $26 billion merger holding the announcement up.

Today, only 11% of total wireless subscribers presently use 3G bands. As a result, carriers are looking to shed these archaic networks in favor of aggressively upgrading to 5G.

If you haven’t moved on from 3G yet, your telecom executives should look closely at higher engineering standards. The 5G era will make streaming and wearables much more reliable for your end users.