Verizon delaying shutdown of its 3G wireless network

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 | By Clare Duffy – CNN Business |

New York (CNN Business) – Consumers using a phone that still runs on the Verizon 3G network have a bit more time to continue using the network.

The company’s 3G network is still up and running — after Verizon previously said the old network would shut down at the end of 2020 — as it continues to shift customers to newer technology, including 4G LTE and its growing 5G network.

“For several years now we’ve publicly stated that our 3G CDMA network is being decommissioned, however our 3G network presently remains operational,” Verizon spokesperson Kevin King said in an emailed statement.

“Virtually all Verizon data traffic runs on our 4G LTE network, and as we actively work to decommission the 3G network we encourage customers still using 3G service to migrate to newer technology.”

Verizon (VZ) has talked about decommissioning 3G for years — the 2012 release of the iPhone 5 resulted in a big shift of customers from 3G to the then-new 4G network. The process of winding down 3G began in 2014, when Verizon started reallocating spectrum to its 4G LTE network. At the time, analysts predicted 3G would be gone by 2018.

The carrier’s 3G shutdown was delayed once before. Verizon initially planned to switch the network off at the end of 2019, but that year it told Light Reading that it would wait until the end of 2020. There’s no new date for when 3G will officially shut down, though Verizon says it is working to decommission the old network as soon as possible “while continuing to care for our customers.”

Verizon stopped activating new 3G devices in 2018. Last year, it added other limitations around 3G service, including no longer allowing customers to activate their own 3G device on an existing line and not supporting 3G devices roaming outside the United States. In 2021, Verizon says it will no longer support certain types of troubleshooting for 3G devices.

The company declined to disclose how many customers still rely on its 3G network.

Verizon’s decision to delay its 3G shutdown probably has less to do with mobile phone customers still using the network — which are likely few in number — and more to do with “internet of things” devices, such as smart utility meters and home burglar alarms that are still connected to 3G and require more time and money to swap out, said Bill Menezes, director analyst at tech research firm Gartner.

Still, Menezes said, “to the extent that you might be a consumer that has an old prepaid phone that still relies on 3G, it’s probably a good idea to be aware that this is going to happen at some point and to start making plans to move to 4G. [Otherwise] it’s going to get harder and harder to make a voice call.”

In 2020, 3G users comprised just over 6.3% of total mobile connections in the United States, while 4G and 5G represented around 88% and 3%, respectively, according to network operator trade group GSMA Intelligence. In 2021, 3G is expected to shrink to 5.7% of total mobile connections, while 5G connections are expected to grow to around 14.5%. (This data includes mobile phone and data-only device connections, such as tablets, but excludes the kind of cellular IoT connections Menezes mentioned.)

Transitioning to new wireless technology

Verizon, like other carriers, is eager to move customers onto the newer network after spending years and billions of dollars building out 5G.

Running three different network technologies — 3G, 4G and 5G — is costly and inefficient at a time when carriers want to dedicate their resources to expanding 5G and the ecosystem of tools and capabilities that make use of the new network technology.

“Obviously the sooner they can move off of 3G and repurpose that spectrum for 5G, the happier they’ll be,” Menezes said.

In 2020, total spending on 3G wireless infrastructure in North America topped $435 million, compared to nearly $3.7 billion and $1.8 billion on 4G LTE and 5G infrastructure, respectively, according to December forecasts from Gartner. In 2021, Gartner estimates $246 million will be spent on 3G infrastructure, versus nearly $2.8 billion on 4G LTE and $3.3 billion on 5G.

Throughout the past year, Verizon continued to expand access to its superfast wideband 5G network, and in October the company announced that it had activated its nationwide, low-band 5G network.

Apple’s October release of the iPhone 12, the first 5G-enabled iPhone, is widely expected to help boost adoption of the new network technology, though consumer uses of 5G remain fairly limited at this point.

Read the full story here.

ACLU, EFF, and Tarver Law Offices Urge Supreme Court to Protect Against Forced Disclosure of Phone Passwords to Law Enforcement

Does the Fifth Amendment Protect You from Revealing Your Passwords to Police?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with New Jersey-based Tarver Law Offices, are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination extends to the digital age by prohibiting law enforcement from forcing individuals to disclose their phone and computer passcodes.

“The Fifth Amendment protects us from being forced to give police a combination to a wall safe. That same protection should extend to our phone and computer passwords, which can give access to far more sensitive information than any wall safe could,” said Jennifer Granick, ACLU surveillance and cybersecurity counsel. “The Supreme Court should take this case to ensure our constitutional rights survive in the digital age.”

In a petition filed Thursday and first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the ACLU and EFF are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Andrews v. New Jersey. In this case, a prosecutor obtained a court order requiring Mr. Robert Andrews to disclose passwords to two cell phones. Mr. Andrews fought the order, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege. Ultimately, the New Jersey State Supreme Court held that the privilege did not apply to the disclosure or use of the passwords.

“There are few things in constitutional law more sacred than the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” said Mr. Andrews’ attorney, Robert L. Tarver, Jr. “Up to now, our thoughts and the content of our minds have been protected from government intrusion. The recent decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court highlights the need for the Supreme Court to solidify those protections.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held, consistent with the Fifth Amendment, that the government cannot compel a person to respond to a question when the answer could be incriminating. Lower courts, however, have disagreed on the scope of the right to remain silent when the government demands that a person disclose or enter phone and computer passwords. This confusing patchwork of rulings has resulted in Fifth Amendment rights depending on where one lives, and in some cases, whether state or federal authorities are the ones demanding the password.

“The Constitution is clear: no one ‘shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,’” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker. “When law enforcement requires you to reveal your passcodes, they force you to be a witness in your own criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court should take this case to settle this critical question about digital privacy and self-incrimination.”

For the full petition: https://www.eff.org/document/petition-writ-certiorari-andrews-v-new-jersey

Read the original article at WebWire.com HERE.

Verizon CEO makes the case that 5G is more than just faster phones

By Roger Cheng | Jan. 11, 2021 |

From drones to 3D renderings of museum exhibits, Hans Vestberg rattles off a list of ways 5G will change your life.

The advent of 5G was supposed to change, well, everything. But aside from tons of commercials and smartphones with a faster wireless connection — and, at times, not even that — the next-generation cellular technology has been a non-factor for most people. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg showed up to this year’s CES with a few real-world examples of how 5G will have an impact.

“It’s more than just another tech innovation,” he said at his CES 2021 keynote address on Monday. “It’s a platform that makes other innovations possible.”

Vestberg’s session is a follow-up from his appearance two years ago, when he first introduced the eight “currencies,” or the company’s jargon for 5G applications. On Monday, he ran through programs in areas like sports, education and drone deliveries that emerged from the concepts laid out in 2019.

The Verizon keynote comes at a pivotal and unconventional time for 5G. The wireless industry should be crowing about the breadth of devices and wide rollout of the network, but the coronavirus lockdown has most people at home — using Wi-Fi — and few able to take advantage of the fastest connections found in city centers. The inconsistent speeds available on 5G nationwide networks, meanwhile, have some consumers wondering what the fuss is all about.

Vestberg made the case that even as the pandemic caused many things to shut down or freeze, the work around deploying 5G and taking advantage of its higher speed and responsiveness continued through 2020. He also said these networks will be ready to serve when some sense of normalcy returns and people head back into city centers and sports arenas…

Continue reading at CNET.com HERE.

Signal downloads skyrocketed 4,200%

Wed. Jan. 13, 2021 |By Isobel Asher Hamilton and Grace Dean – Business Insider |

Signal downloads skyrocketed 4,200% after WhatsApp announced it would force users to share personal data with Facebook. It’s top of both Google and Apple’s app stores.

WhatsApp’s rivals got a massive boost after the messaging app announced last week that it would make users share some personal data with its parent company, Facebook.

WhatsApp told users on January 6 they would have to agree to let Facebook and its subsidiaries collect WhatsApp data — including phone numbers and locations — before February 8 or lose access to the app. WhatsApp has since clarified that this affects users only outside the European Union and the UK and said that the change “does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.”

Data from app-analytics firm Sensor Tower shows Signal, a rival encrypted messaging service, saw an enormous surge in user numbers following WhatsApp’s announcement.

“From January 6 to January 10, Signal saw approximately 7.5 million installs globally from across the App Store and Google Play,” a Sensor Tower representative told Insider.

This represented a 4,200% increase from the previous week.

On Wednesday, the app topped both Google and Apple’s app stores in the US, according to data from App Annie, the analytics company. Fox News reported the app has been top of both stores since Monday.

The surge in downloads also coincided with Parler, the social media app popular with supporters of President Donald Trump, being forced offline. Amazon booted the app from its web-hosting service, Monday saying it “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”

Read the full story here.

T-Mobile is shutting down service to these phones, but will offer free replacements

By: Ryne Hager  |  Jan 8, 2021  |

Based on internal documents from T-Mobile given to Android Police, some older devices, including the OnePlus One, Xperia Z3 series, and Nexus 9, will be unable to connect to the company’s network beginning on January 29th. 19 devices, including phones, tablets, and even cameras, are named by the document. Affected customers will be notified by SMS beginning on December 28th, and will be able to upgrade to one of four phones for free.

According to the documents sent to us (which we have verified as accurate), the following devices will be unable to use T-Mobile’s network as of January 29th, following the deployment of a network update:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (AT&T model)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Verizon model)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
  • HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle
  • HTC Desire 650
  • Google Nexus 9
  • Huawei Mate 8
  • Huawei P9
  • Mikrotikls SIA_R11e-LTE6
  • Netgear Arlo Security Camera System
  • OnePlus 1
  • Quanta Dragon IR7
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Duos
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
  • Sony Xperia Z3
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Orion
  • Sony D6616 Xperia Z3 Orion
  • Soyea M02
  • ZTE ZMax

Note that although the AT&T and Verizon Note 4 are affected, the T-Mobile version of the phone is not. It is also possible other devices not on this list may be affected.

Most of the devices T-Mobile lists as being left behind are quite old in smartphone terms. The majority are from 2014-2015, though the Huawei P9 landed in 2016. These are devices that stopped getting official updates a long time ago, and even excluding this end of carrier support, it’s in these customers’ best interests to upgrade to something with more recent security patches. However, the inclusion of the Arlo security camera and R11 e-LTE6 are odd, for reasons we’ll touch on later.

Connected to the list is a longer text that explains the devices are being left behind due to their inability to receive an update required for continued functionality on T-Mobile’s network, following a network change. We originally thought this was tied to the long-awaited mandatory VoLTE support associated with T-Mobile’s legacy network shutdown, but the company tells us that isn’t the case — though the timing and details remain suspicious. The change will also affect Metro and Sprint subscribers, and details there get a bit muddier.

T-Mobile is required to maintain Sprint’s 3G network for three years as a condition of the merger, and presumably, customers with these devices should still be able to connect to that network. The document still claims Sprint customers will be impacted, but a later section states only those on T-Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile will lose all network connectivity. Sprint subscribers with affected devices will only lose T-Mobile network roaming.

The document claims that snail mail letters were sent to those affected by the change beginning on the 18th, and SMS-based notifications will be sent on December 28th, giving customers around a month to replace their devices. Some business customers will be pushed to an existing $150-off promotion, and T-Mobile employees are told to “stay tuned for additional offers that will be specifically targeted to impacted customers.”

After our story was initially published, T-Mobile reached out to confirm this change is not part of either its VoLTE requirement or any legacy network shutdown, even though the timing, the apparent requirements, and the list of devices imply a connection. We asked T-Mobile for more details regarding the change that is pushing these devices off the network, but that information wasn’t provided. The company did not accept our offer to publish a statement when asked.

The inclusion of devices like the original Arlo security camera and R11e-LTE6 mini PCIe card also cast some doubt on the VoLTE requirement as a cause, since neither should need that. When asked how this affects future software support and functionality on T-Mobile’s network, a representative from Arlo told us that no official decision has been made to discontinue the product.

In the meantime, T-Mobile subscribers using any of those 19 devices should reach out to see if they are eligible for the promotional offer. If you’re worried about your phone, you can check and see if your device supports VoLTE with our guide.

T-Mobile has now published public support documents about the device cutoff, and has started sending out texts to affected customers. There’s no new information compared to the previous leaks, except there is now confirmation that T-Mobile Prepaid and Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS) customers are also affected.

Read the original article and access associated links from AndroidPolice.com HERE.