Damn! I feel old. AT&T has confirmed that it has shut down 2G services in the US. So if you live there and your phone only makes GSM calls and uses EDGE for data – like the Original iPhone (AKA iPhone 2G), you’re stuck with only WiFi as the only option. The move won’t hurt very many people (even basic phones have been using 3G for years), but it’s hard not to shed a little tear for a technology that had been around for so long – especially as it’ll soon also be leaving networks elsewhere in the world too.
As it stands, you probably won’t mind much given what most networks around the globe have in store. They’ll repurpose that newly freed spectrum for 4G, and the move will ultimately create more headroom for 5G wireless. Just as with the end to analog service, the small sacrifice you make now will likely pay much larger dividends down the road.
The shutdown is also a reminder of just how far mobile data has come since 2G hit the scene way back in the early 2000’s. EDGE and GPRS were considered fine at a time when any mobile data was a relative novelty, and the most you did with it was check email or surf the most basic of watered-down websites. Now, even a modestly-sized app or photo download would absolutely crush 2G – the modern mobile internet depends on speeds that are hundreds of times faster. Imagine what it’ll be like when 3G bites the dust and 4G is considered the baseline?!