When Will 3G Be Phased Out?

Last updated: May 24, 2019

Major U.S. network operators are slowly phasing out their 3G technology. In this post, I share my impressions about the status of the Big Four networks’ 3G phase-outs. For what it’s worth, I’m not confident all of the information is correct, and it’s possible some network operators won’t stick to their current deadlines.

Verizon

Verizon plans to mostly retire its 3G network by the end of 2020. More details about Verizon’s plans and policies can be found in an entry on Verizon’s knowledgebase

Although the network will largely be retired, FierceWireless explains that some of Verizon’s enterprise customers may continue to have access to 3G service after regular customers lose access.[1]

AT&T

AT&T appears to have plans to retire its 3G network in early 2022. Here’s an excerpt found on AT&T’s website as of 5/24/2019:[2]

We currently plan to end service on our 3G wireless networks in February 2022.

I’m not sure it’s correct, but I’ve seen an indication that AT&T plans to cease activating 3G-only devices on June 30, 2019.

T-Mobile

As far as I know, T-Mobile hasn’t made any announcements about when its 3G network will be retired. I haven’t seen any information about intentions to block 3G device activation.

Sprint

A document published by Multi-Tech indicates that Sprint may sunset its 3G network on 12/31/2022. I don’t know what source Multi-Tech relies on for that date.

Sprint appears to have had an intention to stop activating 3G-only devices on 4/30/2019. I haven’t confirmed that activations actually ceased.

Footnotes

  1. The FierceWireless article was written when Verizon planned to retire is consumer 3G service in 2019. I expect Verizon plans to keep some business customers on 3G beyond 2020, but I’m not certain.
  2. From a page titled Upgrade to LTE / LTE-M for IoT (archived here).

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