Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Swisscom quietly turns off 2G network

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 15 April 21

The operator turned off the network after almost 30 years, with the 2G spectrum now being used to support 4G and 5G services

After being introduced all the way back in 1993, Swisscom announced yesterday that it has turned off its 2G network. The removal of the last devices on the network began at the start of 2021, with the network shutdown itself coming in mid-April. The shut down has been coming for some time. While 2G was once the dominant mobile technology for sending texts and making calls…

After being introduced all the way back in 1993, Swisscom announced yesterday that it has turned off its 2G network. The removal of the last devices on the network began at the start of 2021, with the network shutdown itself coming in mid-April.

The shut down has been coming for some time. While 2G was once the dominant mobile technology for sending texts and making calls, by the proportion of data traffic carried on 2G in Switzerland has fallen steadily for a number of years, accounting for less than 0.03% of Swisscom’s traffic by the end of 2020.

The operator first began warning its customers it was aiming to switch off its 2G services back in 2015, aiming to transition the customers to 4G devices.

The spectrum that was previously used for 2G services will instead be used to bolster the company’s 4G and 5G services, including being used for phone calls. 

The process of retiring 2G and 3G networks is a lengthy and complicated one. While operators must ensure that they are not leaving their customers without service, they also cannot afford to maintain the network if it is unprofitable – especially when the additional spectrum could be refarmed to support 4G and 5G. 

GSMA Intelligence data notes that by 2025 a total of 55 2G and 3G networks will be closed worldwide. However, the rate at which these networks are shut down will vary widely by region. In Europe, for example, 19 operators in 14 countries are planning to turn off 3G services by 2025, while just eight operators in eight countries were planning to switch off 2G. This preference for 2G comes in part due to the growing prevalence of the IoT, where the older network has proven useful for early deployments in a number of countries. 

The story is different in the Americas and in Asia, however, where operators are primarily focussed on shutting down their 2G networks to free up spectrum for 4G and 5G. The Oceania region has likewise seen a similar trend, though perhaps at a less accelerated rate. Finally, Africa, as a less developed mobile market, currently has very few notably plans to retire 2G services. 

 

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