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Verizon begins preparing switch from 3G to LTE networks

Verizon has begun tests for switching networks used for 3G to LTE in some markets around the country.

Published onDecember 4, 2014

cell tower antenna

Verizon recently began testing LTE over spectrum that was previously used for 3G coverage, as it’s beginning preparations for the permanent switch from 3G to LTE networks.

Verizon’s actions first came to light when Howard Forums user Milan Milanovic noticed (via his trusty spectrum analyzer) that the 3G signal that was normally present in an area of Manhattan had simply vanished, only to be replaced weeks laterby an LTE signal. GigaOm’s Kevin Fitchard reached out to to Verizon spokeswoman Debra Lewis, who confirmed that the testing of LTE on the PCS band has begun, but declined to get into details of when the commercial LTE rollout would begin.

Although active testing has been confirmed, we shouldn’t assume that the switch is something that will happen overnight. Around 80% of Verizon’s mobile data currently comes over LTE, but there are still a good 40 million devices on the network that lack an LTE radio to make use of it. This means that 3G (and even 2G) will have to remain available at some level, although that level will most certainly be severely reduced.

Verizon plans to begin shipping LTE-only capable handsets in 2016, giving them a little over a year to expand their ever growing LTE network. Considering that, the current LTE testing they are performing, and the 3G scalebacks in some areas of the country, and it would appear that Verizon is very serious about making 3G a thing of the past.

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