US Cellular and Cellcom are the latest operators with plans to shelve their older 2G and 3G networks as mobile carriers focus on building out their 5G offerings.
Over the last year, 5G home internet has gained a lot of attention for its easy setup process and coverage potential, while 5G wireless service has become the default for consumers. In turn, carriers have been focusing on the technology to provide customers with faster, more reliable connectivity for mobile and internet users.
Cellcom will deactivate its 2G network on Friday, following the shutdown of its 3G network in March. Cellcom said it has contacted customers who would be impacted by the changes to offer assistance. Customers will need to make sure to have VoLTE (Advanced Calling) turned on so they can make a call after 2G networks are shut down, according to the carrier.
“In order to meet the demands for how consumers use wireless, the industry is investing and reallocating resources to 4G and 5G networks. To do so, support for legacy networks is being discontinued and the networks are being turned off,” Cellcom said on its website.
US Cellular said it also plans to shut down its 3G CDMA — the older third generation of radio systems for cellphones — on January 14, 2024. The operator has a list of devices that will be impacted by the shutdown on its website.
“Major wireless carriers have already shut down their 3G CDMA networks and you’re likely starting to notice the effects on your older devices.” US Cellular said on its website. “We are committed to supporting our customers and are ready and available to assist you through this transition.”
The carrier said once it shuts down 3G, users will lose service completely, but it’s offering “big discounts” on 4G and 5G devices. Customers still using 3G devices can contact US Cellular or visit a store to check out upgrade offers and see if they qualify for a free or discounted phone.
US Cellular and Cellcom join a growing number of mobile operators sunsetting their older networks to focus on newer technology.
Last month, T-Mobile — one of the last major companies to still support 2G — said it will retire its 2G networks on April 2, 2024, as it continues to transition its customers to 4G and 5G networks. After its merger with Sprint in 2020, T-Mobile shut down its 3G networks along with Sprint’s 3G and LTE networks.