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Verizon Confirms That It Will No Longer Activate 3G Phones (Updated)

verizon wireless

If you are holding onto an older 3G phone from Verizon, hoping that one day you’ll activate it and re-live the glory days of tech life where we didn’t stare at screens for 5-6 hours per day, it’s time to give it up. Verizon is no longer activating 3G-only phones. Instead, they will only accept 4G LTE-equipped phones going forward.

Earlier this year, rumors circulated suggesting that Verizon would stop activating 3G phones by June or July. In the past week, a couple of readers reached out to let us know that Verizon had turned them down for trying, so we reached out to Verizon who confirmed that it is indeed the end for 3G phones:

For several years we’ve been been publicly saying that our 3G CDMA network will remain available through the end of 2019. Virtually all traffic on our network is on our 4G LTE network.

To facilitate a smooth transition to 4G LTE capable products and services, we are no longer allowing devices that are not 4G LTE capable to be activated on our network.

Now, as is noted in the statement above, Verizon has committed to shutting down its 3G CDMA network by the end of 2019. They also stopped selling 3G devices some time ago, I believe, and even started selling LTE-only flip phones to replace them. If they want everyone on LTE, which most customers are at this point, then not allowing additional 3G devices to be activated is probably the right move.

On a related note, an earlier leak suggested that Verizon may stop some older LTE devices from being activated too. The documentation there said that CDMA devices as well as devices that do not support HD Voice or VoLTE will not be accepted. Verizon said only that 3G phones were no longer supported to us. We went ahead and plugged in IMEIs for phones as old as the HTC Thunbderbolt (2011) and DROID RAZR (2011), both of which came up as compatible still with Verizon’s network.

RIP, 3G phones.

UPDATE JULY 19: So when we originally wrote up this article and reached out to Verizon for comment, we also asked them about devices that were not VoLTE capable. A reader of ours said they had tried to activate a number of iPhone 5s IMEIs and were told that they were no longer supported. Verizon refused to answer anything about a VoLTE requirement and instead gave us the statement above. The following day, they then gave CNET a quote that changed one part:

“For several years we’ve been publicly saying that our 3G CDMA network will remain available through the end of 2019. Virtually all traffic on our network is on our 4G LTE network.

“To facilitate a smooth transition to 4G LTE capable products and services, we are no longer allowing devices that are not 4G LTE capable with VoLTE to be activated on our network.”

See the difference? In the second part of the quote, Verizon is now acknowledging that some older phones that aren’t VoLTE-capable, will not be accepted on their network. Again, we asked them about this twice and they refused to comment on it.

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