Recently, a piece of news caught my attention. An elementary school student who lives in Furong District, Changsha City, Hunan Province started school recently. September was a good season when the weather was clear, but something happened that made parents anxiously angry.
The reason is that when the kid wanted to contact his parents, he found that the certain model of the little genius watch he was wearing could no longer make calls, and it kept showing no signal, as if this function suddenly disappeared.
▲ The little genius watch XTC Y01S involved in the news. Picture from: Jingdong
Why can't my little genius watch be used anymore?
According to the news, the factory time of this watch was in April 2018, which is more than two years ago. The watch can still make calls during the summer vacation this year, but it suddenly appeared two days before the beginning of school. There is no signal.
After some investigation, it was finally discovered that this little genius watch is a GSM terminal, using a 2G network to make calls, and the SIM card inserted in the watch is the secondary card of China Unicom used by her mother. Xiaotiancai's customer service said that China Unicom in the region has shut down its 2G network, so the watch can no longer make calls.
In just two years, the biggest feature call of children’s watches was abandoned in some areas, which is unacceptable for many people, but this matter is decided by the operator and not a problem of the watch manufacturer. Parents touch This kind of thing can only suffer a loss.
If you want to be blamed, you can only blame this manufacturer of 2G children's watches for not supporting 4G earlier. In fact, Zhihushang actually had similar questions in July 2018. It can be seen that the mainstream children's watches on the market at that time were indeed still With 2G as the mainstay, consumers can only choose limited products.
In the answer at the time, some people thought that operators did not dare to really cancel 2G, because the function of guaranteeing the call is still very important. Of course, we can see that the clearance is already in progress everywhere.
As for why it feels that the speed of 2G removal this year has become faster, in fact, after reading the news, we can find that on October 22 last year, Wen Ku, Director of the Information and Communication Development Department, said in an interview with reporters that my country’s mobile communication network faces 2G, The conditions for 3G withdrawal from the network have gradually matured.
2G and even 3G withdrawal is already in progress, is it necessary?
When I started using mobile phones, I was already in the 2.75G era, that is, I can use the edge to surf the Internet. With the package of 5 yuan and 30M and the WAP page, I can chat on QQ for a month and scan the news.
▲ iPhone 3G. Picture from: WJBR
Subsequently, the domestic mobile communication technology began to enter the Great Leap Forward, the 3G era blossomed overnight, and the Wi-Fi function was finally no longer removed from the licensed products, iPhone and Android devices began to exert force, and the trend of mobile Internet of Things skyrocketed. Although the "Telecom 3G Tianyi, surfing is fast" of the year is often ridiculed today, it is true that 3G speed seems to have become popular overnight.
After running into the 4G era, the world's first deployment of 5G has made the world feel the "Chinese speed".
Today's 2G and even 3G networks do not have any sense of existence in non-remote villages, but is it necessary to retire 2G networks? As mentioned above, is 2G secured calls a better choice?
▲ As soon as we reach Sanyuanqiao Station, China Unicom will fall to 2G. Picture from: Wikipedia
First of all, we must admit that even in areas like Beijing, there are more than one perceivable blind spots of 3G/4G/5G coverage, such as the western section of Metro Line 15 last year (not clear if I didn’t take it this year), and Line 10 Near Huixin West Street South Exit Station and Sanyuanqiao Station, the signals of the three operators do not seem to be very good. Especially China Unicom, which is my main number, often drops directly to the 2G network and cannot open any web pages.
But from the overall layout, it is still necessary to clear 2G and 3G.
To clear the 2G network, the first thing you need to face is the stock users of the 2G network. These users are mainly divided into three categories. In addition to the old 2G mobile phone users in remote areas that we recognize, there are a small number of users as mentioned earlier. Smart wearable device users such as Xiaotiancai watches, as well as enterprise-oriented IoT users.
▲ image description. Image from: Zhihu user @小奇
Zhihu user @小奇 replied in a related question that their company started to purchase IoT equipment in 2015, but the equipment purchased before 2018 only supports GSM network, and the purchase started last year was for LTE. This part Equipment still needs to rely on operators to maintain the network.
In the update on July 25, he stated that Wuhan Unicom had notified them that the GSM network in Wuhan will be gradually shut down after June 9. And almost 200 IoT devices in their unit that only support GSM networks will enter the phase of elimination.
If the scale of the Internet of Things is still relatively difficult to estimate, the number of mobile users in my country is based on the data of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. According to the data of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the number of global mobile communication users has reached 1.598 billion, of which the number of 4G users is 1.29 billion.
▲ The economic performance of the communications industry from January to August 2020. Picture from: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
So there are less than 300 million users still using 2G or 3G networks. In addition, some data indicate that the total number of 2G users on the entire network is about 273 million. China Unicom, which is the most active in promoting 2G withdrawal from the network, also has about 50 million 2G users.
Obviously this number has not yet reached the standard of natural elimination, and the base is still very large. From the attitude of the three companies, China Unicom is the most active withdrawing from the network, followed by China Telecom. Mobile, which has the most 2G users, is more cautious. It will not withdraw its 2G network for the time being, but it has also announced that it will no longer add new users. The 3G network TD-SCDMA.
But generally speaking, 2G/3G/4G/5G is not a high-low combination package, but the relationship between advanced technology replacing backward technology after technological evolution and iteration. The withdrawal of 2G and 3G has already begun, but it is only based on local conditions. The schedule is different.
What benefits can operators get after 2G withdrawal
It is imperative to withdraw the network, but the problem is here. What are the benefits after the withdrawal of 2G and even 3G networks?
From the simplest point of view, compared with 4G users and 5G users, the value of 2G users is almost gone. In recent years, the profitability of operators has been declining, and 2G networks not only require maintenance for equipment maintenance, but also users cannot What kind of benefits it brings, as a whole has been operating at a loss for many years, and operators naturally hope to be freed from it.
Another advantage is the release of frequency bands. In order to provide network coverage, the 2G network chose low frequency bands such as 800M and 900M. This frequency band has strong penetrating power and has good coverage without the need to build a large number of base stations. Releasing these frequency bands for re-cultivation for 4G, 5G and other networks can effectively improve coverage, and will also help capture more 5G users and revenue.
Some people shouted that 2G could not retreat, and they dare not retreat, but from a global perspective, it has been retired earlier than China. In January 2017, American wireless operator AT&T issued a news on its official website, stating that in order to free up more spectrum for new technologies, they had ceased to provide services for 2G networks on January 1, 2017. And this plan started five years ago.
In addition to AT&T, Canadian operators Bell and Telus also shut down 2G networks at about the same time. In April, Singapore operators M1, Singtel, StarHub, and Australian operator Optus also retired their 2G networks. In early July , SaskTe, another operator in Taiwan and Canada, shut down its 2G network. In September of the same year, Vodafone Australia also shut down its 2G network.
I personally support accelerated 2G network retirement, because then operators have more resources to provide better quality 4G and 5G network services. Of course, I still want to pay from your pockets.
But at the same time, the population base in my country is very large, and the distribution of mobile terminals is very uneven in time and space. As a result, many 2G devices will be naturally eliminated slowly. How to ensure the needs of these users and upgrades is also a matter of caution. For example, how many regions are covered by the VoLTE function that enables calls under 4G networks, how many of the cheapest feature phones support VoLTE, and the distribution of 2G stock users, all need more protection.
We can also ask the elders around, or relatives in the hometown, if they still use 2G terminals. If so, I will persuade you to switch to a 4G/5G mobile phone as soon as possible.
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