Unicom 2G users do not have to panic
In response, China Unicom responded to the official Weibo news on April 13 stating that China Unicom is indeed promoting the 2G network frequency reduction work in an orderly manner, and its main approach is to promote 2G customers' consumption upgrades to 4G networks.
Concerning the concerns of 2G users, China Unicom stated that it will adopt various preferential measures such as free replacement of mobile phone cards, complimentary flow of experience, and preferential purchases to help existing 2G customers upgrade to 4G networks; in the process, existing 2G Customer service is not affected. In other words, even Unicom 2G users who do not have the will to upgrade will not have to worry about the impact of Unicom's move.
As of the end of 2017, China Unicom had approximately 284 million subscribers, of which 4G subscribers were approximately 175 million, accounting for 61.62%; and 2G customers accounted for approximately 2% of the total number of customers, exceeding 5 million subscribers. Judging from the existing user distribution, the overall usage situation of China Unicom's user groups is extremely uneven, but 4G has occupied the dominant position, and 2G has become less and less.
In response, China Unicom stated that the launch of the 2G network frequency reduction measures is based on the fact that 4G mobile networks have been universally adopted and that 5G is coming. It also stated that this is an actual action to eliminate the backward production capacity of the communications industry and helps the mobile communications network. The “de-stocking” and transformation and upgrading will help further improve the quality and level of Unicom's service capabilities and continuously enhance consumers’ sense of acquisition.
The statement on retiring 2G networks was fermented as early as 2016, but there were not many substantive actions. However, as the arrival of 5G is approaching, how to deal with 2G networks becomes a matter of being put on the agenda. It is reported that as early as the end of January 2018, China Unicom has already begun to actively deploy 2G network decommissioning services in many provinces and cities, and asked the market line to forbid the development of 2G business.
Even so, it is unlikely that China Unicom will adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to shut down the 2G network completely in a short period of time. Instead, it is more likely to adopt a moderate approach such as encouraging upgrades; after all, it is impossible for a central SOE to undertake the social responsibility of popularizing Internet communications. The needs of more than 5 million users are indifferent.
Close 2G network is the trend
Although the current 2G still has the necessity of its continued existence, in the long run, shutting down 2G is inevitable and inevitable.
For China Unicom, 900Mhz and 1800Mhz currently deploying 2G networks are high-quality frequency bands, and are also urgently needed resources for China Unicom to continue to develop other networks. As early as last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had issued a document allowing operators to deploy the NB-IoT system on the GSM band. China Mobile also built a 4G-based NB-IoT network on the original 2G band. Unicom also needed this resource. .
In addition, from the perspective of operator maintenance, 2G networks with a smaller number of users also require a large amount of maintenance costs; once closed, this part of the cost can be saved.
Looking around the world, operators in many countries have officially closed down 2G networks. Here are some of them:
In January 2017, operators such as American AT&T, Canada Bell, and Telus closed their 2G networks;
In April 2017, three Singaporean operators M1, Singtel and StarHub closed their 2G networks. In the same month, Optus, the second largest telecommunications operator in Australia, also closed down 2G networks.
At the end of July 2017, another Canadian operator, SaskTel, also announced the closure of its 2G network.
At the end of September 2017, Vodafone Australia closed its 2G network.
The reason why these operators can close 2G networks is because the development of mobile communication technology has entered 5G, and on the other hand, it is based on their commercialization needs. Especially in the global 5G development has entered the standard development and pre-deployment phase, the significance of 2G network is indeed much less significant.
It is worth mentioning that after experiencing the development rhythm of 2G follow-up, 3G catch-up, and 4G, the development of China in 5G has entered a leading role. Currently, the three major operators have already defined the timetable for the 5G development route and have already carried out trial deployments of 5G networks in the relevant cities; this can be understood why the voice of “closed 2G networks” on the Internet is getting louder and louder.
However, for China's three major operators, the complete closure of 2G is not an easy task. As of the end of 2017, China still has 1.57 million 2G base stations, 290 million 2G users, and massive IoT devices that are more dependent on 2G networks; such a huge application volume is bound to make the withdrawal of 2G networks a long-term one. engineering.
After all, in a sense, the 2G network problem in China is not just a commercial issue, but also a livelihood issue.