AT&T pulls plug on 2G network, ending cellular data for Apple's 2007 iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone
U.S carrier AT&T has announced the shutdown of its 2G network, in the process killing off support for some older phones -- including Apple's original iPhone, which didn't offer any faster cellular options.




The change actually took effect on Jan. 1, AT&T said. Plans were first revealed four years ago, and the carrier has been since been migrating people to 3G and 4G devices, sometimes offering them at a discount or for free.

AT&T said that its goal is to open up more cellular spectrum "for future network technologies, including 5G," though in the short term, it will allocate bandwidth towards 4G LTE.

In the U.S. 2G has largely become a fallback data technology for phones in rural areas, as most towns and cities are thoroughly covered by 4G or at least 3G.

When it launched in 2007, the first iPhone took some criticism for operating only on 2G cellular, as 3G was already in service and offered far faster speeds, potentially very useful for the mobile version of Safari. Apple didn't offer 3G until the following year's model, and iPhones remained an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. until a Verizon version of the iPhone 4 shipped in Feb. 2011.

With the end of AT&T's 2G network, owners of original U.S. iPhones will have to use Wi-Fi to do anything on the internet. Apple itself, however, has officially declared the device obsolete, and the latest OS release it supports is iOS 3, which virtually all developers have abandoned.

Apple celebrated 10 years since the unveiling of the first-generation iPhone last week. The iconic device was shown off onstage at the 2007 Macworld expo by late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    There's an air of sadness when technology dies.
    calijahbladejbdragonjSnivelycincyteeGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 15
    zroger73 said:
    There's an air of sadness when technology dies.
    No there isn't. Turn around and face the future!
  • Reply 3 of 15
    Oh man... I always harbored the thought that, some day, I'd fire it up again -- still a beauty, in pristine condition -- and make a call or two with it, for fun. But I suppose not. :-/

    Unless I travel to a country where 2G's still operational (e.g., India).
    zroger73jahblade
  • Reply 4 of 15
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Wow the nostalgia is almost depressing. I faintly remember the tv stories about iPhone being a failure and how gigantic it looked when someone pulled one out. 

    AT&T, Google, Foxconn and the various App developers are just a few companies this one little 2G device made billions of dollars for. 
    zroger73jahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    jm6032jm6032 Posts: 147member
    Oh man... I always harbored the thought that, some day, I'd fire it up again -- still a beauty, in pristine condition -- and make a call or two with it, for fun. But I suppose not. :-/

    Unless I travel to a country where 2G's still operational (e.g., India).

    Can you still get the correct size SIM card? I haven't seen one in a while.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,017member
    Oh man... I always harbored the thought that, some day, I'd fire it up again -- still a beauty, in pristine condition -- and make a call or two with it, for fun. But I suppose not. :-/

    Unless I travel to a country where 2G's still operational (e.g., India).
    Isn't this just data? You should still be able to make a call I think?
    jbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 15
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 827member
    I still have mine.  I need to reinstall the original iOS and put it back in the box like it was when I originally purchased it.  It needs to exist as a ritualistic object of worship.
    jahbladezroger73anantksundaramGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    anomeanome Posts: 1,296member
    zroger73 said:
    There's an air of sadness when technology dies.

    It isn't really dead. As long as you carry it with you...

    No, seriously, it's not really dead, it just evolved. A lot's changed since then, but the key elements of GSM are still there.

    cali said:
    Wow the nostalgia is almost depressing. I faintly remember the tv stories about iPhone being a failure and how gigantic it looked when someone pulled one out. 

    And then, all too soon, it was too small. Really, consumers can be such fickle bastards sometimes.

    jm6032 said:
    Oh man... I always harbored the thought that, some day, I'd fire it up again -- still a beauty, in pristine condition -- and make a call or two with it, for fun. But I suppose not. :-/

    Unless I travel to a country where 2G's still operational (e.g., India).

    Can you still get the correct size SIM card? I haven't seen one in a while.

    It only took a mini-SIM. Those are still the standard SIM for a lot of things. My 4G WiFi hotspot takes a mini-SIM.

    Now, who remembers the full sized SIM cards? They're the size of that card you punch your mini-, micro-, and/or nano-SIM out of. I remember being impressed that the Motorola Star-Tac managed to fit one inside (other small form factor phones had already started using mini-SIMs).

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    iPhone not the only thing that went dark.

    I received a letter from Nissan about the fact that ATT is turning off the 2G network Dec 31, 2016 which will result in CarWings going offline. We will not be able to use the Nissan app to communicate with the LEAF.

    Nissan want $195 for the upgrade.

    Here is my take. I am leasing the car. It belongs to Nissan. The lease expires the end of May 2017. Why should I have to pay for the upgrade? It was Nissan's choice to fail to upgrade to the 3G or 4G network. 3G has been around for over 10 years.

    I strongly advise owners to resist Nissan's effort to extort payment for what is clearly their mistake in failing to install the latest technology in an EV!
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 15
    crowley said:
    Oh man... I always harbored the thought that, some day, I'd fire it up again -- still a beauty, in pristine condition -- and make a call or two with it, for fun. But I suppose not. :-/

    Unless I travel to a country where 2G's still operational (e.g., India).
    Isn't this just data? You should still be able to make a call I think?
    You may have a point there... I am going to check this weekend, when I'll have a bit more time.
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 11 of 15
    focherfocher Posts: 645member
    Just another ridiculous example of forced obsolescence!

    i guess it's time to upgrade. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 15
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,169member
    iPhone not the only thing that went dark.

    I received a letter from Nissan about the fact that ATT is turning off the 2G network Dec 31, 2016 which will result in CarWings going offline. We will not be able to use the Nissan app to communicate with the LEAF.

    Nissan want $195 for the upgrade.

    Here is my take. I am leasing the car. It belongs to Nissan. The lease expires the end of May 2017. Why should I have to pay for the upgrade? It was Nissan's choice to fail to upgrade to the 3G or 4G network. 3G has been around for over 10 years.

    I strongly advise owners to resist Nissan's effort to extort payment for what is clearly their mistake in failing to install the latest technology in an EV!
    It's strange they're using 2G on something that's kind of suppose to be modern. It's a semi new All electric car. On the other hand, them only asking a $195 upgrade price, is actually reasonable. For some reason I would think they would be asking a $399 price point. I do get it was kind of dumb to make it 2G only. If you don't plan to keep the car after the lease, maybe it's not worth the upgrade fee to you. If you owned it, it would make it worth more I guess as the features would still work. If you're just going to give it back to the dealer in a few months then you can let them or the new owner worry about it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,169member
    It's time for 2G to die.  In fact, maybe it should have died a couple years ago.  Who's left at this point still using 2G?  We'll see this happening with 3G down the road when 5G is out there in many places and 4G is expanded, 3G will fade away.   There's only so much bandwidth and so they have to make the best use of what they have.   That Original iPhone is 10 years old.  Even back then they were already moving to 3G.

  • Reply 14 of 15
    thedbathedba Posts: 479member
    focher said:
    Just another ridiculous example of forced obsolescence!

    i guess it's time to upgrade. 
    You are joking. Right?
  • Reply 15 of 15
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    zroger73 said:
    There's an air of sadness when technology dies.
    No there isn't. Turn around and face the future!
    I worked for AT&T Wireless when the "2.5G" network was turned on. The actual 2G network was the TDMA network, which was turned off in 2007. The reason it was "2.5G" was because of the EDGE support which was originally meant for the TDMA network. Up until the iPhone, the only phones that supported EDGE were the 6000 series Nokia's. Every phone that AT&T Wireless sold was meant for 1G GSM networks that only had GPRS. If you phoned AT&T Wireless during the pre-Cingular transition time, asking for the 2G department got you the TDMA customer service, while asking for the 3G or 2.5G got you the GSM customer service. 

    So you can blame Marketing departments for wanting to go "no we offer a better 3G network" for the confusion. Inside AT&T Wireless, the GSM network was always referred to as 2.5G or 3G, depending on who you talked to. The UMTS devices were the real 3G devices, but, again due to marketing, the EDGE service was also considered 3G, even though it actually belonged to the 2G network and talked "GSM", where as UMTS talked WCDMA.

    What is being shutdown is the GSM/GPRS/EDGE service. This is happening in harmony with other North American GSM services (eg Rogers Wireless in Canada) Will shut down theirs in 2018. CDMA carriers/former-carriers (eg Telus, Bell, Sprint, Verizon) were also expected to shut down their 2G/3G CDMA networks in 2017-2019 as well.  However the thing that needs to be mentioned , at least in Canada, is that Telus and Bell migrated to GSM/HSPDA (3G/3.5G) in order to serve the Olympics in 2010 (what use was an official wireless carrier that nobody outside Canada could use due to not supporting GSM?) So they actually jumped-ship from CDMA earlier than Verizon did. Verizon was the last party to the GSM-evolution table and adopted LTE while everyone else other than Sprint was already using it. Sprint still had the baggage from supporting WiMax and ultimately having to eat that cost.

    Which brings us full circle to Apple. Apple's first three phones (the iPhone, iPhone 3G and 3GS) are named such for marketing purposes. The iphone 3G,3GS,4 and 4S all support at most UMTS/HSDPA, so when AT&T/T-Mobile and such decide to turn off support for UMTS, then those models will no longer work too.

    This actually has more impact on devices that have a permanent GSM radio in them, like OnStar. Up until 2014, OnStar relied on the Verizon (or Bell Canada) CDMA network. So if you have OnStar in your car, and your car was built before 2014, you likely will lose access to it unless GM retrofits the radios with LTE. By 2019 I expect most car manufacturers will have standardized on a LTE-family radio with WiFi fallback/fallforward (eg use the mobile phones WiFi in the car for telematics if no radio built into the car, or use an attached USB modem.) 
Sign In or Register to comment.