Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Turning Off Whole Networks is Becoming More Common

Though telecom service providers globally have yet to begin turning off the old public switched telephone network, one day they will have to do so, the time division multiplex network having been largely replaced by newer IP-based networks.

In the meantime, the cost of operating legacy and IP networks continues to grow, as fewer customers remain to pay the costs of maintaining the TDM network. At some point, it simply becomes uneconomical to continue doing so.

Mobile operators know quite a lot about such transitions, but so do TV broadcasters, each industry having done so at least once.

Mobile operators in Singapore will shut off 2G services in April 2017, freeing up more spectrum for 3G and 4G services.

There are about a quarter million 2G subscribers remaining in the Singapore market, down from about two million in 2011, or about three percent of all mobile subscribers. The 2G network was launched in 2004, so it will have had a lifespan of about 10 years.

The 2G shutdown would not be the first time a mobile network has been closed, as the analog networks globally also had been shut down previously,

The U.S. analog networks likewise were shut off in 2008, for example. The point is that mobile network operators, unlike fixed network operators, have experience with shuttering an older mobile network, completely.

Regulator IDA Singapore has approved a plan from the operators to shutter their 2G networks on April 1, 2017,  allowing 2G subscribers to continue with their existing plans at no extra cost after migrating to 3G, and being provided with low-cost 3G phones.

Australian carrier Telstra has announced plans to shut its 2G network by the end of 2016. AT&T will do so on Jan. 1, 2017.

Telenor plans to turn off its 3G network in 2020, and its GSM network in 2025,

Companies around the world also now have experience shutting off broadcast TV networks. Norway plans to turn off its FM radio networks in 2017, as well.

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