AT&T sets deadline for phasing out 2G

AT&T said the shutdown of its 2G wireless network will be complete by the end of 2016, a process that will force customers with older phones to upgrade to 3G or 4G handsets.

The company said in a regulatory filing that it is shutting down the older network, which doesn’t support high data speeds, city by city. It said earlier this year that the process had started in New York City and that it was trying to move 2G subscribers to new phones.

By shutting down 2G and using the same space on the airwaves for 4G, AT&T can increase data capacity more than a hundredfold.

Other companies are also “refarming” 2G spectrum. Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel is shutting down the Nextel 2G network and moving subscribers to its newer technology.