Verizon Wireless has set a shutdown date for its 2G and 3G CDMA networks, giving its customers until 2021 to switch onto its LTE network before turning off the slower technology.
The decision gives users a decade of lead time to switch to phones that only use the superior LTE technology.
The time frame, although not exact, was confirmed by Verizon's Vice President of Global Strategy for M2M Aparna Khurjekar through FierceWireless during MobileCon 2012.
"The date Aparna referenced while talking to you is a guideline that we are providing customers who have to plan, fund and transition large enterprise projects to the faster speed networks," Brenda Raney, Verizon spokesperson, said to FierceWireless. "We haven't made a sunset decision like our competitors."
CDMA joins the sun-downers club
CDMA is just another example of a slower system that is being overtaken by the next generation of communication technology.
Most of the country's AMPS analog wireless networks went dark in 2008. Sprint Nextel will switch off its iDEN network next year. And by 2017, AT&T has said it will shutter its 2G GSM network.
Verizon started building its LTE network in 2010 and plans to build out the network to mirror the entire 3G CDMA system by the end of 2013.
The move isn't that big of a deal for most smartphone-savvy customers. A lot of smartphones already have duel antennas that communicate through LTE along with CDMA.
Those users will probably upgrade to all LTE phones years before the CDMA network goes down.
Voice over LTE coming soon
For the moment voice calling is still handled by Verizon's CDMA network, where its LTE system handles the data communication to smartphones.
However, the carrier plans to introduce Voice over LTE by the beginning of next year.
The move will most greatly impact businesses that rely on CDMA networks for machine-to-machine communication, such as power companies who now use wireless networks to monitor electrical use.
But the decade notice should give those companies plenty of time to prepare.