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The future of legacy mobile networks in Europe

3G could disappear before 2G in the region according to GSMA Intelligence survey



Faced with ever-increasing demand for mobile data, many operators are at a critical point in the lifecycle of the cellular technologies they employ. Those in mature markets that have been successful in migrating customers over to more spectrally efficient 4G networks are now considering the potential shutdown of their 2G or 3G services. Reducing the number of network technologies that operators have to maintain can significantly lower their running costs, and also allow them to rationalise device portfolios and simplify tariff structures.

Some operators in Asia Pacific and North America have already shut down (or publicly committed to shutting down) 2G technologies to refarm spectrum and provide additional data capacity on their 4G-LTE networks, and many others across the world are expected to do the same.

However, some European operators have announced that they will break the typical technology lifecycle pattern and switch off 3G before 2G. A GSMA Intelligence survey has revealed that these operators expect to still run 2G beyond 2020 mainly due to factors linked to spectrum management and M2M deployments.


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