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AT&T: The End is Near for 2G Phones

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AT&T Inc. is shutting down its second-generation, or 2G, wireless networks by 2017 as it continues to upgrade its systems to faster technology and better use its limited airwaves.

The telecom giant said about 12% of its contract wireless customers, or roughly 8.4 million people, were using 2G handsets at the end of June, but it will work "proactively" in coming years to move them to more advanced devices. Like the other major carriers, AT&T's customers mostly use phones with 3G, or third-generation, technology, and it is aggressively rolling out a nationwide 4G network.

With every network generation, the technology becomes more efficient at carrying information. As a result, companies can get better and more profitable usage from shutting down older networks in favor of newer ones, something that AT&T has talked about.

AT&T first introduced the 2G network in the early 1990's, an AT&T spokesman said. Its latest next-generation 4G LTE network began rolling out last September.

The timeline for the 2G shutdown was made in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.

An AT&T spokesman said the company no longer sells 2G handsets to contract or prepaid customers. Along with phones, AT&T does have some other devices connected to its 2G networks, but it also expects that they will transition to more modern technology in coming years.



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