AT&T will no longer work with your 2G smartphone

AT&T on Monday formally announced that it shut down its 2G network for mobile phones as of 1st January 2017 in order to support the massive growth of mobile internet usage. It originally made the announcement about retiring 2G four years ago, and has been trying to incentivise customers into upgrading with “discounts and free devices to eligible customers” ever since.

Confirming the move in a blog post, John Donovan, AT&T’s Chief Strategy Officer and Group President said that the shutting down of their 2`G network means that there will now be more space for their 3G and 4G networks to prosper, as they will be able to improve that 2G spectrum and utilize it for future technologies, including 5G and improved LTE.

He said: “Today, our 3G and 4G LTE networks cover 99% of Americans. By shutting down our 2G network, this frees up more spectrum for future network technologies, including 5G. In the next few months, we plan to repurpose that spectrum for LTE.

“Newer, faster technologies will improve the wireless experience. IoT customers will be able to better serve their customers with improved applications and solutions because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network. Mobility customers will enjoy faster speeds to share photos and watch video.

“The retirement of our 2G network – like our earlier retirement of the analog wireless network – is part of our 5G Evolution, which includes continued deployment of our 4G LTE and other technologies in the years to come.”

In the U.S., 2G has largely become a fall back data technology for phones in rural areas, as most towns and cities are thoroughly covered by 4G or at least 3G. AT&T points out that data usage on its network have grown 250,000% since 2007.

The news comes just as Apple celebrated the tenth anniversary of the iPhone eight days ago. With the end of AT&T’s 2G network, owners of original U.S. iPhones will have to use Wi-Fi to do anything on the internet. However, Apple has officially declared the device obsolete, and the latest OS release it supports is iOS 3, which almost all developers have abandoned.

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