A number of factors influence when a carrier in a given market can sunset 2G or 3G cellular services. Generally, these decisions are driven primarily by factors involving the market for services to individuals, not the market for M2M or IoT.
- In countries where a carriers have relatively few customers, carriers can swap out all old consumer handsets more readily to sunset older networks.
- In more economically advantaged countries, consumers tend to adopt new technology more quickly, whether or not subsidized by the carriers. At a certain point of saturation of the new technology, carriers can sunset old technologies without disrupting the consumer market. This has been particularly true of adoption of 4G LTE, which consumers were quick to adopt in order to get smartphones with data speeds almost as good as wired Internet.
- In countries such as the US, where 3G was not universally adopted and where several factors, including delays in spectrum auctions, led to late deployment of 4G LTE, carriers essentially skipped rolling out 3G. Due to the wide performance gap between 2G and 4G, carriers are busy re-farming their 2G spectrum and preparing to sunset those networks as they rapidly build 4G coverage, even if 2G networks still perform adequately for many low-bandwidth M2M or IoT applications.