When Will 4G Be Phased Out?
There has been so much hype around 5G in the last few years that many carriers are wondering when will 4G be phased out? Many operators use 4G within their networks and worry that the arrival of the fifth generation means that their networks will soon become obsolete.
Though this may be true one day, the shutdown of 4G is not likely to happen for at least another ten years. 5G was not designed to replace 4G but to work in conjunction with the technology.
As data traffic continues to grow at an exponential rate, many view 5G as the way forward.
What Is 5G?
5G stands for fifth generation of mobile networks. When we describe cellular connectivity, we refer to the overall technology, speed, frequency and system in numeric generations such as 3G, 4G or 5G. These generations have evolved over time and each one has unique technologies that define them.
The latest generation, 5G technology, brings bigger channels for faster speeds, lower latency and the ability to connect a lot of devices at once. As the world becomes more connected with wireless technology showing no signs of slowing, the need for 5G is immediate.
Are 2G and 3G Networks Coming to an End?
While there is no global consensus on shutting down 2G and 3G networks, in some countries they are coming to an end. 2G and 3G networks have been essential for many customers for decades. Over the past few years, these networks have been essential for IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (machine to machine) devices.
But with the rise of 4G and 5G networks, there is limited spectrum available for expansion. People are wondering when 2G and 3G networks will see their last days to make room for newer technologies.
Some countries have already begun phasing out 2G and 3G services. In Europe, deadline dates indicate that 2G will be mostly gone by 2025, with 3G even sooner than that. The Americas are phasing out 2G at a rapid rate with 3G close behind.
In many countries in Asia, such as Japan, Macau, Singapore and South Korea there is no 2G available already. Many major carriers have announced that 3G networks will be ending within the next three years. Most operators in Oceania have already switched off 2G services too. However, there is no plan for a mass switch off for 3G in the region.
The only region who has not given an indication for 2G and 3G shutdowns is in Africa. In some countries, it has been reported that no 2G or 3G service is currently available but there are no continent-wide plans to halt networks.
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So, When Will 4G Be Phased Out?
Currently, 5G networks are just starting to have an impact around the world. 5G devices are growing in number as networks become more readily available.
However, a lot of these networks rely on 4G for assistance. At the beginning, 5G networks used 4G to establish their initial connections. We are beginning to move to “standalone” networks (without 4G) but there can be issues with connectivity.
Many carriers are weighing up the pros and cons of having a standalone 5G network or one that integrates both 4G and 5G seamlessly. Standalone 5G seems like the next step for the future of mobile networks, but we are not there yet.
On top of this, demand for 4G continues to rise. As 2G and 3G services come to an end, many are looking to 4G LTE networks as the replacement. 5G coverage is not widely available at the moment, especially in rural areas, so 4G is the best choice for a lot of consumers.
When will 4G be phased out? Shutdown of 4G networks are not expected for another decade at least. Of course, this all depends on the uptake of 5G connections and whether the technology can thrive without 4G altogether.
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