Price tag to shutter AT&T's 3G network $380M

AT&T is prepared to spend roughly $380 million over the next few months to shut down its aging 3G network.

The company disclosed the figures during its recent quarterly conference call with investors. AT&T has already spent $130 million on the effort, and expects to spend another $250 million during the first quarter of 2022.

AT&T said its 3G shutdown would affect Apple phones that are older than the iPhone 6. (Source: Apple)
AT&T said its 3G shutdown would affect Apple phones that are older than the iPhone 6.
(Source: Apple)

Notably, AT&T also announced it would use Syniverse's Evolved Mobility product to continue to support roaming for other carriers’ international customers. These are carriers that have not yet launched VoLTE roaming with AT&T.

"To ensure voice roaming services after a circuit-switch decommission, we collaborated with Syniverse to create an innovative solution that could preserve customer experience," AT&T's Cameron Dunn explained in the Syniverse news release. "AT&T is very pleased with this solution as a 'tool in the toolbox' to avoid disruptions caused by network decommissions."

Comes as no surprise

AT&T has been warning customers for years that it plans to shut down its 3G network in February. In recent FCC filings, the company suggested that about 2.7 million customers could be affected.

AT&T has experience in the network-shutdown arena. The operator discontinued service on its 2G network in 2017. According to AT&T's filings with the SEC around that time, it counted 4 million customers on its 2G network, most of them IoT devices.

AT&T isn't alone in shifting away from 3G. Vodafone UK confirmed this week that it, too, will start dismantling its legacy 3G network from 2023.

However, there is a growing chorus of voices calling for AT&T to delay shutting down its 3G network. Companies and organizations including the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and vendor Zonar are asking the FCC to force AT&T to delay. But so far the agency has remained silent on the topic, and AT&T hasn't changed its plans.

Interestingly, T-Mobile recently delayed plans to shut down its 3G network. Late last year, the company said it would delay shutting down the 3G CDMA network it inherited from Sprint by three months following concerns raised by Boost Mobile operator Dish Network.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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