The Benton Institute reports…
In letters to wireless carriers, 13 US senators caution about shutting down legacy services. Researchers estimate that at least 13% of Americans rely on older 2G or 3G technology. In some areas, 2G and 3G services are the only mobile wireless service available, and this is particularly true in rural and secluded areas where 4G and 5G technologies have not yet been deployed. For many customers who live in these areas, a mobile wireless connection is their only tool for staying in touch with friends and family, doing homework, or making a living. Shutting down 2G and 3G services in these areas without adequate notice, or before 4G or 5G services are available as a replacement, risks leaving millions of Americans completely disconnected. The senators ask a number of questions about shutting down 2G and 3G services, requesting a reply by May 3, 2021.
Here are the questions as posed in a letter to Verizon…
Accordingly, please answer the following questions by May 3, 2021, regarding Verizon’s plans to shut down its 2G and 3G networks:
1) How many Verizon customers currently rely on 2G and 3G services? Which states have the highest numbers of 2G and 3G customers, both as a total number and as a portion of Verizon’s total subscribers?
2) What information have you provided to your current 2G and 3G customers regarding the transition to 4G and 5G services? Has Verizon provided its customers with the date on which it intends end their 2G and 3G services?
3) Does Verizon have any services or offerings designed for customers transitioning from 2G and 3G services? Is Verizon offering any financial support for customers who may not be able to afford more expensive 4G and 5G devices and services? How will Verizon support customers who currently do not have a 4G or 5G handset?
4) Will Verizon immediately provide 4G and 5G services in areas where it plans to shut down its 2G and 3G networks? If not, how long will it take for Verizon to deliver 4G and 5G services in those areas? How will Verizon ensure that the shutdown of its 2G and 3G networks do not leave some customers without mobile wireless service?
5) How will the 2G and 3G shutdown impact access to public safety and 9-1-1 services?
6) How will the 2G and 3G shutdown impact non-cellular devices and other devices and systems that are not mobile phones on your networks? How many of these devices will be impacted in each state?
7) How will the shutdown of 2G and 3G services impact the ability of other carriers to use Verizon’s network for roaming traffic or wholesale services? What is Verizon doing to ensure that the voice traffic of roaming carriers will not be impacted?
8) Can current 2G and 3G customers change service providers during this transition without incurring additional fees? If so, what information have you provided customers on how to do this?
9) How has Verizon trained its customer service representatives to assist and provide resources to 2G and 3G customers during the transition? What are these resources and when will they be available to customers?
10) What other steps, if any, is Verizon taking or has planned to take to ensure that this transition closes rather than widens the digital divide? Please describe in terms of both availability and affordability.