3G ain’t totally dead yet: Verizon pushes back cut-off plans to some unspecified future date

It’s hard to kill off a trusted, stable technology that works

Verizon has delayed plans to shutdown its 3G network for a third time.

The mobile operator originally intended to scrap the old tech two years ago, deciding back in 2016, that December 31, 2019 would be the cut-off date. It even stopped adding any new 3G phones in mid-2018.

But come July of 2019, it extended the deadline to December 31, 2020. Come the New Year just a few days ago and telco industry mag Light Reading noticed the cut-off still hadn’t happened and started asking questions.

“Our 3G network is operational and we don't have a plan to shut it down at this time,” a spokesperson told the publication. “We'll work with customers to move them to newer technology."

Java microservice, photo via Shutterstock

Sloppy string sanitization sabotages system security of millions of Java-powered 3G IoT kit: Patch me if you can


Notably, though, Verizon refused to give yet another deadline for the death of 3G, presumably to avoid the need to answer the same question in the same way at a later date. Instead, it has granted 3G an indefinite extension.

Verizon's director of corporate communications Kevin King told The Register: "Yes, our 3G network is still live today. We're actively working with customers to migrate them to new technology. It's not accurate to say the network will remain active 'for some time.' While we want to make sure we care for our customers - both consumer and IoT - our plan is to move them ASAP and retire the 3G network."

In all likelihood 3G - the first truly useful mobile data standard that caused the momentous shift to smartphones - will be with us for at least another year. AT&T has said it will end 3G in “early 2022” and T-Mobile will require new phones to use LTE (4G) this year.

Another data point: Toyota has warned car owners that have its Safety Connect system that the system will “no longer work by the end of 2022.” It notes in an FAQ online:

“As wireless technology continues to evolve, telecommunications providers in North America are making significant changes to their legacy communications infrastructures and network capabilities. As part of this process, these third-party providers have elected to discontinue the provision of 3G wireless services.”

Tried and trusted

3G technology is proving stubbornly hard to get rid of for a wealth of reasons, not least that it works, is stable, and is readily available everywhere. It’s the classic old technology that people don’t feel the need to move away from if it does what they need it to.

There are still a good number of consumers that rely on 3G, even with the massive shift to more modern smartphones, and there remain many markets where 3G fits the bills - not least the IoT market. Or home alarms. Or car tracking and safety systems.

There are other factors however. For one, mobile operators want the spectrum space used by 3G for their 4G and 5G networks. And they want customers to shift to the latest and greatest tech. On the flipside, despite years of seemingly endless hype, the reality of widespread 5G networks is some way away, especially in rural areas.

Pushing customers onto new, more expensive networks only for them to find the service is sometimes worse is a guaranteed way to lose support. And so 3G gets a reprieve for at least another year. Let’s see where we are in 12 months’ time. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Verizon: Ransomware sees biggest jump in five years
    We're only here for DBIRs

    The cybersecurity landscape continues to expand and evolve rapidly, fueled in large part by the cat-and-mouse game between miscreants trying to get into corporate IT environments and those hired by enterprises and security vendors to keep them out.

    Despite all that, Verizon's annual security breach report is again showing that there are constants in the field, including that ransomware continues to be a fast-growing threat and that the "human element" still plays a central role in most security breaches, whether it's through social engineering, bad decisions, or similar.

    According to the US carrier's 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released this week [PDF], ransomware accounted for 25 percent of the observed security incidents that occurred between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, and was present in 70 percent of all malware infections. Ransomware outbreaks increased 13 percent year-over-year, a larger increase than the previous five years combined.

    Continue reading
  • Verizon expands network-as-a-service with VMware SD-WAN
    If enterprise apps are going into the cloud, someone needs to provide the extra plumbing

    MWC Verizon Business is adding VMware's software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offering to a lineup of managed services, the latest move by a major carrier to address the demand for more streamlined networking and security capabilities by increasingly distributed and cloud-centric enterprises.

    Verizon made the announcement this week at the Mobile World Conference event in Barcelona, giving the telco another service that organizations can use as data and applications continue to move out of centralized data centers and into the cloud and network edge.

    The partnership with VMware – Verizon has similar tie-ups with the likes of Cisco Systems, Fortinet, and Versa Networks – comes as the SD-WAN space expands rapidly and the technology plays a foundational role in the emerging secure access service edge (SASE) space, which essentially combines SD-WAN and hybrid connectivity with a range of network security functions, including zero-trust network access (ZTNA),  secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers (CASBs) and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) delivered as a cloud service.

    Continue reading
  • Mobile networks really hate Apple's Private Relay: Some folks find iOS privacy feature blocked on their iPhones
    Plus: Verizon's personal data grab, and more

    In brief Some mobile networks in Europe, UK, and America have reportedly started blocking Apple's beta-grade Private Relay functionality in iOS 15.

    This opt-in feature works kinda like a VPN or kinda like Tor depending on how you squint at it: when enabled, it encrypts and routes your connection through two proxy servers in an attempt to obfuscate your location and IP address to websites. It also hides from your cellular network which webpages and sites you're reading. Bear in mind you need to be using Safari and paying for iCloud+, and that the chosen servers do reveal the region of the world you're in. Not all countries are supported by Private Relay.

    Now it's reported that at least some subscribers using T-Mobile US and Sprint in America, carriers in Europe, and EE in the UK may be unable to use Private Relay on their iPhones when using cellular data due to their network operator's intervention.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022