Major global mobile carriers are taking steps to put an end to services such as 3G services ahead of the commercialization of 5G mobile services. This move is aimed at using limited frequency resources more efficiently and providing high-quality 5G services.
According to telecom industry sources on August 1, major global mobile operators are preparing to terminate old mobile telecommunication services such as 3G.
Last month, KT announced a plan to end the WiBro service on September 30. Although WiBro is a purely Korean technology, sluggish global market expansion precluded the technology from going global. As a result, production of terminals and equipment was put on hold, making it difficult to maintain service quality. This brought an early halt to the service. KT's WiBro subscribers total around 50,000.
The frequency used for WiBro is likely to be converted to a 5G frequency. The WiBro frequency band, 2.3GHz, is expected to be widely used for 5G services in the global market.
Following KT, SK Telecom is considering terminating its WiBro service. SK Telecom said, "We are considering various measures such as service termination ahead of the end of the frequency license period next year."
Leading global carriers are announcing the termination of 3G services one after another. Verizon in the United States decided to close down its CDMA network at the end of 2019, and will stop supporting 3G handsets as the first step.
China Mobile is also likely to shut down its 3G network by 2020 shortly after the commercialization of 5G services. The Chinese mobile carrier will start its 5G network test in 2019 and build it on a large scale by 2020. 3G networks are highly likely to be shut down during this period. China Mobile's fourth-generation (4G) service subscribers grew by 22 million in the first quarter. China Mobile plans to shut down its 3G services and concentrate on 4G services until their 5G services become stable.
Taiwanese mobile operators are also planning to lead 6.35 million 3G subscribers to switch to 4G services by the end of the year under the leadership of the National Communication Commission (NCC), a broadcasting and communications regulator. Second-generation (2G) services ended in Taiwan in July last year in order to enable mobile carriers to secure 4G frequencies. The end of 3G services seems to aim to secure 5G frequencies in Taiwan.