Verizon has confirmed that it is no longer activating 3G-only handsets and will only activate smartphones that support its 4G LTE network from now on. The network operator said the decision ensures a smooth transition to LTE-capable services and products as it works to shut down its 3G CDMA network by the end of 2019. The carrier already announced its plans to shut down its older 2G and 3G networks back in 2016, and has already implemented measures to help subscribers transition to its LTE network. The company is offering LTE-capable flip phones to customers since last year, and it has already deployed its Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service, which allows consumers to make and receive calls over the carrier's LTE network. Verizon also previously committed to helping its subscribers transition to LTE on a per-customer basis, as needed.
Once Verizon's 2G and 3G networks are shut down, the spectrum that was previously used by older cellular technologies will be transferred to its LTE network. This refarming process will increase the total bandwidth utilized by the carrier's LTE service, which should allow it to support more users while offering improved data speeds. However, more than a year before the scheduled network shutdown, the telecom giant is already transferring spectrum from its 2G and 3G networks to LTE in areas with increased demand for mobile data. For example, in New York, only Verizon's 850MHz frequency is still running on older cellular standards, with the rest of its spectrum in the area is already used for the company's LTE service.
Aside from Verizon, other carriers in the United States have already detailed plans to shut down 2G and 3G networks within the next few years. AT&T has already discontinued its 2G GSM service early last year, while T-Mobile plans to sunset its 2G and 3G networks by 2019. However, T-Mobile chief technology officer, Neville Ray, noted last year that before it could shut down its 2G and 3G services, the network operator has to wait for at least 30-percent of its subscribers to upgrade their devices to newer VoLTE-capable handsets.