By Pekka Keskiivari, CTO, CRF Health
I note that the discussion regarding the future of 2G networks has been initiated by a few machine-to-machine providers who seek to use claims of an impending phase-out against their competitors deploying GSM-only equipment. There are currently no published plans or announcements from any wireless carrier regarding phase-out of their 2G networks, and this lack of any published plans creates an opportunity to present such claims.
There is naturally an on-going evolution of networks, and eventually any technology will become out-dated. To analyze the future of 2G, we should try to understand the drivers for wireless carriers in the development of their networks. Essentially, their decisions are based on the relevant regulative framework and business case. Wireless radio spectrum is typically licensed for a fixed term and for specific use, determining which wireless technology can be used to operate on the licensed frequency band. While it is difficult to predict how the license landscape will change over time in each country, the periods tend to be fairly long, and it is not reasonable for the regulator to make abrupt changes that would severely affect how the carriers can utilize their massive investments in network infrastructure. Carriers will not phase out a technology that is generating them a profit if they don't have to, and if it does not make business sense to them.