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article imageAT&T kills the original iPhone

By James Walker     Jan 20, 2017 in Technology
The original iPhone is now unusable as a cellular device in the U.S. because AT&T has quietly shut down its 2G network. The carrier was the only provider that supported the first-generation handset, meaning owners can no longer use voice or data.
AT&T first announced plans to shutter its 2G services four years ago. It revealed the network is now offline in a blog post this week. It actually discontinued the service on January 1 though. The fact that nobody noticed indicates just how few people still rely on 2G devices.
AT&T noted that the digital landscape has changed dramatically since the time that 2G was prevalent. Since 2007, when the 2G-only iPhone was launched, data usage on its network has grown by 250,000%. The company attributed the increase in no small part to the rise of video.
The 2G network has been shut down to free up spectrum for newer services. Since AT&T's 3G and 4G LTE networks now reach 99% of Americans, the company decided it's time to pull the plug on 2G. With only a handful of customers still actively using the service, the impact is minimal.
AT&T has contacted people who are still reliant on 2G networks and offered advice on using new technologies. Where applicable, it has also given customers discounts on new devices to ensure they can access its 3G and 4G networks. Some people have received phones for free as part of the company's work.
The death of 2G will open the door to new networks including 5G services. 5G is being pitched as instrumental to the connected future envisioned by technology companies. It will provide the infrastructure necessary for millions of smart products to talk to each other simultaneously. Its introduction comes at the expense of older devices though, confining phones including the original iPhone to the history books.
"Newer, faster technologies will improve the wireless experience," said John Donovan, AT&T's Chief Strategy Officer and Group President of Technology and Operations. "IoT customers will be able to better serve their customers with improved applications and solutions because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network. Mobility customers will enjoy faster speeds to share photos and watch video."
The iPhone arrived in June 2007, quickly making "smartphone" a household term. Steve Jobs intended it to be a hybrid of three devices, blending the multimedia of an iPod with a Mac's information facilities and new all-important telecommunications functionality. Its onboard Wi-Fi connectivity was accompanied by support for rudimentary 2G Edge mobile networks, enabling users to navigate the web while on the go.
With a maximum speed of 384Kbps, Edge offered a substantially faster experience than GPRS' maximum 171Kbps. The 5G networks of tomorrow will operate at 20Gbps speeds though, around 50,000 times faster than the first iPhone could manage.
More about iPhone, At&t, 2G, 3g, 4G
 
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