Should 2G be ‘switched off’?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

I was reading earlier with interest Ewan MacLeod’s blog post on the problems facing UK mobile data users and how it is still patchy. We have been blogging for a while on the future that beckons with 4G (LTE) but at the moment, in the UK, the time has not come yet.

The news that AT&T is planning on shutting down its 2G networks by 2017 doesn’t come as too much of a surprise as it is one of the operators really driving 4G adoption. Which is great for the US and other regions and operators can learn from this. Just look at some of the services that operators can offer to subscribers with LTE, not only increasing customer satisfaction but also driving revenues.

However, we know it isn’t that simple. And, to be honest, I agree with Comtek CEO Askar Sheibani about not making 2G obsolete just yet, at least, not in the regions where 4G is yet to be embraced. Research shows that not everyone has a need for data usage or even for smartphones with around 16% of Americans in December last year not even owning a cellphone! Any transition has to be handled carefully, with the new technology having been road tested and double and triple proofed before switching any older versions off.

The beauty of our global world is that different regions are autonomous and can implement new technologies as and when they like. This means that some (Japan, US) are more advanced than others on the mobile data spectrum. It also means that others are not yet 100% ready, or have a much slower innovation adoption rate by consumers and this is all the more reason for maintaining existing infrastructures – until we are ready to make the switchover.