After several delays, wireless phone company Verizon says it will finally get around to shutting off its older 3G network by the end of 2022.
On Tuesday, the company said it was strongly encouraging customers with older 3G devices to upgrade to a newer LTE- or 5G-compatible phone.
Verizon stopped activating 3G phones on its network last year.
The wireless company announced back in 2016 that it intended to sunset its 3G network as it continued to build out its 4G LTE and 5G offerings. It was originally set to close down its 3G network in 2020 but offered a limited extension “in order to care for our customers and give them every effort to minimize disruptions to their services as the move to newer and more-advanced technologies.”
Mike Haberman, an executive in charge of Verizon’s engineering efforts, said more than 99 percent of the company’s customers are using a device that is compatible with its 4G LTE or 5G networks.
“Customers who still have a 3G device will continue to be strongly encouraged to make a change now,” Haberman wrote.
The move comes as Verizon’s rivals AT&T and T-Mobile have announced similar deadlines to transition away from their older 3G network, which offers slower data speeds compared to the newer 4G LTE and 5G standards.
T-Mobile intends to shut off its 3G network by January 2022, and AT&T recently announced it would close down its 3G network the following month.
Verizon says it is giving customers ample time and reminders to make the switch and warns that the company will not be offering another grace period.
“We will turn off the last of the 3G CDMA network on December 31, 2022, months after our competitors have shut off their networks completely,” Haberman wrote. “The date will not be extended again.”
Switching to a 4G LTE or 5G device would be a good move for customers who are still using older, 3G devices: The newer standards allow for Verizon customers to use their wireless data and make phone calls simultaneously (the company’s older 3G network, which used CDMA technology, required customers to use one or the other, but they couldn’t use both at the same time). It also allows customers to take advantage of new features like voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), which improves call quality.