End clap for 2G and 3G, many smartphones will soon be unusable

Operators around the world are preparing to phase out 2G and 3G. Indeed, the arrival of 5G marks the end for these old-time networks, which have become obsolete for the vast majority of smartphones. but what about other devices, such as cars, navigation or even medical equipment? For the latter, things get complicated.

It has now been almost twenty years since 3G came to disrupt our use of smartphones and many other devices. A descendant of 2G, itself capital in the development of several sectors, it has democratized Internet access wherever you are, provided you don’t be too fussy about loading speeds. Today, it is therefore a page that turns. 5G, deployed en masse across the world at the end of 2021, is gradually burying its ancestors. With 1.5 million sites installed for more than 500 million users, the next-generation network gradually establishes its dominance.

It is therefore only natural that operators prepare the killing of 2G and 3G. The challenge today is indeedfree up bandwidth for the deployment of new 5G antennas and even to be foresighted 6G. In the United States, for example, things will accelerate this year for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, the three operators in the country. The first has also been working on the task since 2017 for its 2G network, thus ensuring that 99% of its subscribers have at least switched to 3G. T-Mobile signed its 3G date July 1, 2022, Verizon before December 31.

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Everywhere in the world, it’s the end of 2G and 3G

The United States is not the only one to have started the transition. In 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that its 2G and 3G networks were on the way out. Then, at the end of last year, it was the turn of our friends across the Channel to make an agreement with Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three UK to set up the « suppression progressive » networks from another time by 2033.

Tower smartphone phone antennas
An antenna tower for mobile telephone networks / Credits: Pexels

Indeed, Europe is a little behind compared to the rest of the world. Vodafone, among others, has declared that its 2G network will last at least until 2025 in Belgium, a date which could be postponed in the future. As for France, the deployment of 5G with now more than 30,000 antennas on the territory will end up sounding the death knell for the old networks. Google, he can’t wait any longer: Android 12 already offers disable 2G on your smartphone.

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What are the consequences for stopping 2G and 3G?

Although most users today have long since given up on 2G, some still persist in using the network. However, the Federal Communications Commission, in the United States, recalls that the telephones remained on the 2 G and the 3 G will no longer be able to make or receive calls or messages once the networks are gone. And it does not stop there.

If you think that you are not concerned, know that 3G is still massively used by modern smartphones. When the 4G or 5G connection is too weak, it is fine the 3G network taking over. In rural areas, many do not yet have access to the latest generation of telecommunications and must be satisfied with its elders.

These are not the only ones, since many modes of transport rely on 3G to locate and navigate in the event of loss of wired connection, like boats. Cars marketed between 2010 and 2021 also use the network to download updates or display GPS data. In other words, these vehicles could become unusable once the current for the 3 G cut.

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