Verizon Wireless Postpones its Shutdown of 3G CDMA Networks

Logan Karels
Verizon Wireless Postpones its Shutdown of 3G CDMA Networks
    Verizon Wireless announced it has postponed the shutdown of its 3G CDMA network until the end of 2020. Older phones on 3G networks will be impacted by the closure. Users with phones that are reliant on the 3G network will need to upgrade before the end of 2020 to maintain service coverage.
Tracfone piggybacks onto Verizon’s networks, so the planned 3G shutdown will affect any Tracfone CDMA device that uses the network.
CDMA stands for code-division multiple access, which is a channel access method used by radio communication technologies. Several transmitters can send information at the same time over a single communication channel and users can share a band of frequencies.
Verizon initially schemed to switch off support for 3G devices at the end of 2019. Verizon spokesperson Howie Waterman stated to Light Reading that their goal was to give affected customers “an extra year to decide what they want to do.”
Since July 2018, Verizon has stopped activating customer’s 3G only phones on its network. The following devices are no longer being activated: CDMA only devices, including 3G basic phones and 3G smartphones, 4G LTE smartphones that don’t support HD Voice, iPhone 5s and before, 2G/3G Hum+, 3G smartwatches, Motorola RAZR, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Note 3.
Users will still be able to activate non-LTE and non-VoLTE phones on Verizon MVNOs until the end of this year. MVNO is a mobile virtual network operator who are resellers for wireless communications services. However, when Verizon closes its 2G and 3G networks at the end of 2020, 3G phones will become obsolete and non-VoLTE LTE phones will not be able to make or receive calls.
VoLTE means voice over LTE, and it’s required for making calls over LTE networks. Phone calls use LTE data networks over older voice networks. LTE is long-term evolution, and it allows users to download data ten times faster than previous CDMA networks.
Verizon’s 3G shutdown has been gradually building for several years, and planned appropriately by including VoLTE with their phone offers. However, Tracfone did not, as only a fraction of their newer phones feature VoLTE. That means that many users will need to upgrade to a new phone to remain in service coverage.
Verizon will offer LTE services exclusively beginning in 2020. For the easiest transition, Verizon is working to move as many of their customers as possible to VoLTE capable LTE phones before the year’s end.
Beginning in early 2020, Verizon will not permit customers to transfer 3G phone service from one account to another, activate 3G service on a pre-existing line, swap a malfunctioning or lost 3G device for another 3G device, or use a 3G phone to roam outside of the U.S. The company hopes the customers see the restrictions as motivation to upgrade to a 3G LTE phone.
The closure of 3G in the U.S. has been looming in the background for years. Cellphone carriers spent billions of dollars over the last 10 years to bring 4G service to the entire country and eventually phase-out the now outdated 3G network.
Verizon isn’t the only wireless carrier to axe an older network and replace it with a faster and more efficient one. T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are employing similar strategies to transition customers from CDMA networks to faster LTE networks.
­–Logan Karels


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