Verizon has begun to shut down parts of its 3G network in order to repurpose the spectrum for 4G LTE. The change was first spotted by Milan Milanovic when he was able to connect a Nexus 5 and a Galaxy S4 to Verizon’s LTE network in Manhattan. The Nexus 5 hasn’t been able to run on Verizon’s existing LTE network, which means that a new LTE network must be running in the area.
Milanovic then used a spectrum analyzer to confirm that the 1980/1990MHz spectrum of Verizon’s 3G EV-DO network in Manhattan had been switched to LTE signals, rather than CDMA. The same spectrum, Milanovic notes, had been shut off a month before. While the band is now putting out LTE signals, it’s still in the very early testing phases, with low power and speeds. When asked for comment, Debra Ping of Verizon Wireless confirmed that Verizon is testing LTE on the spectrum but that the company wouldn’t go into detail on locations or estimates of a commercial launch.
Reports of Verizon testing LTE on the same spectrum have surfaced in Cleveland as well, making this more than a random occurrence. While Verizon may have begun to repurpose its 3G network for LTE, we’re nowhere near seeing Verizon’s 3G network disappear entirely. The change will be gradual, and small portions of Verizon’s 3G network will likely be left on across the nation to continue serving those still using devices that access the 3G network. This is the case in Manhattan, where only about half of the 3G spectrum has been repurposed for LTE.
This news is good news for those dreaming of a world without 3G. It should be remembered that the shutdown will take a very long time, due simply to the scale of the project as well as the logistics of moving 3G-only customers off of the network and onto the newer LTE network. Nonetheless, we look forward to the day when Verizon has one large LTE network to cover all of its customers.