20 January, 2016
AT&T 2G Sunset
In case they missed the 2G sunset announcement made in August 2012, AT&T has begun reminding 2G customers in earnest of the end of their 2G network service scheduled for December 2016.
AT&T sent this reminder message to 2G subscribers yesterday evening.
01/19/16 19:42
AT&T Free Message: Thank you for choosing AT&T! Due to planned network upgrades your device and all other 2G devices will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 2016. To avoid service disruption, please upgrade to a 3G or newer device as soon as possible.
Followed by this marketing message around noon today.
01/20/16 10:15
AT&T Free Msg: Get the ZTE Maven Smartphone for $39.99 today. Visit and AT&T store near you to upgrade today. Req's sep. purchase and activation of wireless svc. Taxes & other charges apply. Reply stop to end mktg msgs.
It looks like AT&T is going to hold good on their promised end date for their 2G network. A very similar strategy was used in saturated markets (I'm looking at you New York City) several years ago to gently encourage customers toward newer mobile technology.
While this is definitely a non-issue for the general smartphone wielding public, who left the 2G network years ago, there are still a large variety of machines communicating via the 2G network. Let's follow this one for the next twelve months and see how it plays out.
29 January, 2016 — Update
AT&T was back at it again with the same message.
01/29/16 19:09
AT&T Free Message: Thank you for choosing AT&T! Due to planned network upgrades your device and all other 2G devices will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 2016. To avoid service disruption, please upgrade to a 3G or newer device as soon as possible.
11 March, 2016 — Update
Having been quiet for over a month now, AT&T was back with a new message reminding 2G customers of the coming sunset—this time with a link to more information.
03/11/16 13:49
AT&T Free Message: Thank you for choosing AT&T! We appreciate your business. Due to planned network upgrades your device and all other 2G devices will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 2016. To avoid service disruption, upgrade to a 3G or 4G LTE device as soon as possible. For more information visit www.att.com/2Gupgrade
Alright, they appreciate our business, now recommend 3G or 4G LTE devices and provide a URI for more information. However, the link to www.att.com/2Gupgrade for more information about the 2G upgrade is just a pretty URI over a support document http://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/wireless/KM1069631 which makes the case for network upgrades and describes paths for wireless and GoPhone customers to upgrade to 3G or 4G LTE mobiles.
23 May, 2016 — Update
Still on the theme of the 2G sunset, AT&T is now offering a bit more help (incentive) for customers still needing to upgrade to a more modern device.
05/23/16 16:20
AT&T Free Message: Get a FREE 4G LTE ZTE Maven; a FREE LG B470, or $50 off any GoPhone (excl. iPhone) when you call 1-866-650-1836 to upgrade by 6/08/2016. Phone restricted to GoPhone service for 6 months after activation. Taxes/fees extra. Limited time offer, while supplies last. Offer only available by phone using the number above. Valid for this account only. Reply stop to end mktg. msgs.
There's the incentive, a modest (currently $39.99) Android device in the ZTE Maven or a classic 3G flip phone (for the set that primarily wants a telephone, currently $49.99) for free. Or fifty dollars off the phone of your choice (iPhones excluded). A modest but sweet incentive for current 2G customers.
As an aside, the note about locking the phone to GoPhone service isn't anything to be alarmed about—that's standard policy for activating a packaged GoPhone mobile on your account, AT&T will unlock the device from their network after six months of continuous service. Also, if you are activating new service on a SIM card, it will also be locked to the handset it was first used with for six months. Typically, you can get out of one or both of these locks early by calling a customer service representative and asking nicely (it helps if you have a good reason, but simply wanting to has worked in the past).
Will AT&T sweeten the offers as the summer rolls along? Only time will tell.
26 May, 2016 — Update
Another announcement about the 2G sunset...
05/26/16 11:38
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned network upgrades your 2G device will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid service disruption visit att.com/mygophone to learn how to replace your current phone without charge.
This time with the key phrase, "without charge." Following the link redirects you to the standard AT&T GoPhone account login page. Following login, the following alert is included about your account information.
AT&T no charge phone upgrade offer for current 2G customers who must upgrade before December 31, 2016
Alright, this is just a prettier version of the SMS offer of a few days ago, one modest Android device or one 3G flip phone for free, or fifty dollars off the device of your choice, excluding Apple devices
Not sweeter yet, but the 2G sunset is still just a hair over seven months away. Time will tell.
21 June, 2016 — Update
This month more of a direct command...
06/21/16 12:22
AT&T Free Message: Replace your 2G device for FREE or get $50 off select devices when you call 1-866-650-1836 to upgrade by July 8, 2016. For details go to att.com/mygophone Limited time offer, while supplies last. Offer only available by phone using the number above. Reply stop to end mktg. msgs.
Following the link to att.com/mygophone shows us that it is a very similar offer and the end date has been extended a month to 8 July.
AT&T free or $50 phone upgrade offer for current 2G customers along with the 2G sunset reminder
Expect the current offer to continue rolling through the summer months based on the two (May and June) we've seen already.
20 July, 2016 — Update
Another reminder, right on time. This time no offer details, just "FREE".
07/20/16 14:34
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned network upgrades your 2G device will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid service disruption go to att.com/mygophone or an AT&T Company Store to learn how to replace your current phone for FREE.
Following that link, AT&T is currently offering one 4G LTE Android device and two flip phones as free upgrades.
AT&T free or $50 phone upgrade offer for current 2G customers
16 August, 2016 — Update
Another reminder, a couple days early. Still no offer details, just "FREE" or $50 off.
08/16/16 11:34
AT&T Free Message: Replace your 2G phone for FREE or get $50 off select phones when you call 866.650.1836 or go to an AT&T Company Store to upgrade by December 31, 2016. For details go to att.com/mygophone Limited time offer while supplies last. Valid for this account only. Repley stop to end mktg msgs.
Following that link, AT&T is currently offering a different 4G LTE Android device and two flip phones as free upgrades.
AT&T free or $50 phone upgrade offer for current 2G customers
At first, it looks like AT&T has increased their incentive for current 2G customers. The offer has moved from a free ZTE Maven to a free ASUS ZenFone 2E. The ASUS ZenFone 2E is currently retailing for $69.99, a Jackson more than the ZTE Maven was at the time of the last marketing message. While it might be that the death star is becoming more generous, it is probably just shifting inventory. The ZTE Maven has sold out (only certified like-new models are available) and been replaced by the ZTE Maven 2 at $59.99. So it looks like AT&T is still offering their ~$50 Android handset for free to current 2G customers in advance of the 2G network sunset. We imagine you could still sweet-talk them into a ZTE Maven 2 for free it that is the mobile upgrade you were hoping for this year.
22 August, 2016 — Update
Another reminder, this one right on schedule. Again, very little detail on the upgrade offer.
08/22/16 11:00
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned network upgrades your 2G phone will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid service disruption go to att.com/mygophone or an AT&T Company Store to learn how to replace your current phone for FREE.
Same offer as last week. Nothing new, just the regularly scheduled reminder, four months short of the 2G network sunset.
24 August, 2016 — Update
Another reminder, this time a robo-call from the AT&T store number, 866-650-1836, giving the same message about how 2G devices will not work after December 31, 2016 and that a free upgrade is available, while supplies last. Calling customers, that's getting serious.
15 September, 2016 — Update
Another robo-call from the AT&T store number, 866-650-1836, three weeks after the first. The message was the same—2G devices will no longer work, upgrade, free ... well, here is the audio of the AT&T 2G sunset automated call (463 KB) made today.
The standard message, delivered in a non-threatening way. Might make you wonder what the next escalation will be....
20 September, 2016 — Update
The automated call from the AT&T store number, 866-650-1836, again, just five days after the last one. The message was the same; here is the audio of the AT&T 2G sunset automated call (463 KB) made today.
We hope this isn't going to be the new pattern—a reminder call every week. That'll certainly force our hand to upgrade from our 2G device.
21 September, 2016 — Update
Called yesterday with the automated system, SMS today—AT&T is certainly doing their best to make sure their 2G customers know about the shuttering of their 2G network.
09/21/16 12:50
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned network upgrades your 2G phone will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid service disruption go to att.com/mygophone or an AT&T Company Store to learn how to replace your current phone for FREE.
Exact same message as August, "FREE" 2G phone replacement. It is just about three months shy of the big off switch for the AT&T 2G network—few of their 2G customers could possibly be missing this barrage of reminders that the AT&T 2G network will be going dark very soon.
The corresponding notice at att.com/mygophone has changed as well.
AT&T, We've identified you are using a 2G phone.
Yes, they have correctly identified the use of a 2G mobile. And they are again offering a FREE replacement via a company store, either physical or by calling the home office at 866.650.1836.
While the 2G sunset notifications from AT&T have become more frequent, the messages have become less detailed. Ambiguity will certainly give AT&T representatives more room to help customers in transition to modern devices.
6 October, 2016 — Update
AT&T is now running a pre-call information message about the 2G sunset. We first heard it while trying to make a call a few days ago (earlier in October) and captured the recording tonight. It is the standard message, 2G devices will no longer work after December 31, 2016. Upgrade now for free by visiting an AT&T store or calling 866-650-1836. This twenty second message should sure be an attention getter—if you notice that it isn't the voicemail of the party you are trying to call.
Here is the audio of the pre-call connect message about the current 2G upgrade plans (209 KB).
12 October, 2016 — Update
Another SMS today, this time explicitly offering a FREE flip phone (as if 2G users are still solely holding out for older form factors).
10/12/16 13:25
AT&T Free Message: Replace your 2G phone with a FREE flip phone or smartphone when you call 866.650.1836 or go to an AT&T Company Store before December 31, 2016. Limited time offer, on select phones while supplies last. Valid for this account only. Reply stop to end mktg. msgs.
Alright, it has been a while since AT&T has mentioned that they still have flip phones available with 3G radios. It looks like they might be concerned that customers are not updating due to the challenge of a form factor, and pushing that those options are still available.
On the GSM network, if AT&T hasn't sold the phone, they have very little recourse as to knowing exactly which form factor a customer is using. For an unlocked phone, AT&T will not have the IMEI number of the device in their database, and AT&T will have no idea what mobile is being used on an account. The assumption seems to have been recently that unlocked devices are smartphones, and AT&T has been automatically turning on visual voicemail for accounts using unrecognized devices. That, in 2016, certainly seems like a safe assumption.
The return of the flip phone mention must be based on corporate customer data that the 2G holdouts are flip phone customers (not candy bar customers)—or a simple desire to push out the last of the low margin flip phone inventory.
In addition, AT&T was back on the auto-call band wagon again today. Another red letter day with an automated call from the company store (866-650-1836) in addition to an SMS. Roughly the same 2G upgrade message, this time narrated by a male voice (370 KB). Stressing that this message is important, we learn about a "planned network shutdown" that will end the functionality of 2G devices after December 31, 2016. There is still a FREE 2G device replacement program.
The messages have also changed for AT&T accounts to read ...
AT&T, replace your 2G phone.
and ...
AT&T, free Asus ZenFone 2E, free AT&T Z223 or free LG B470.
Alright, the 2G sunset notice is repeated in the first message. Nothing new there. In the second, AT&T promises a FREE Asus ZenFone 2E, a FREE AT&T Z223 or a FREE LG B470. There we go, two flip phones back in the offering, just what the SMS suggested. The "or $50 off select devices" still stands as well. The "select devices" clause is there to prevent an iPhone discount; don't expect AT&T to front you $50 for an iPhone 5S or SE purchase.
14 October, 2016 — Update
Again, in just two days, a reminder about the demise of the 2G network.
10/14/16 13:15
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned 2G network shutdown your 2G phone won't work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid a service disruption call 866.650.1836 or go to an AT&T Company Store to replace your 2G phone for FREE.
The first use of "shutdown" in their SMS verbage (it was used in the most recent recorded message). Nothing else new, still FREE 2G phone replacement.
21 October, 2016 — Update
While not exactly related to the 2G sunset, this marketing message from the Death Star is certainly in the same vein.
10/31/16 12:24
AT&T Free Message: There has never been a better time to get a new iPhone. Upgrade with our great new price on the iPhone 5s at an AT&T Store near you, while supplies last. Go to att.com/storelocator to find your nearest location. Reply stop to end mktg. msgs.
So, that would certainly be a way to upgrade a 2G device. Digging a little deeper, the 16 GB Apple iPhone 5s is currently $149.99 with a purchase of a $45 airtime refill card at the AT&T web site. Not too shabby, a new iPhone 5s for under $200. And not a bad way to stop the 2G network demise messages.
25 October, 2016 — Update
Another copy of the last SMS reminder again today.
10/25/16 16:22
AT&T Free Message: Due to planned 2G network shutdown your 2G phone won't work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid a service disruption call 866.650.1836 or go to an AT&T Company Store to replace your 2G phone for FREE.
Nothing new. AT&T is also running the pre-call message prior to every third call or so it seems. Maybe if we made phone calls more often we wouldn't hear it so frequently.
26 October, 2016 — Update
Another automated call to remind us about the 2G sunset. The same content as last call (489 KB), your 2G device will no longer work, upgrade for FREE.
28 October, 2016 — Update
The end game is announced! Today AT&T sent an SMS with the details for their final play to upgrade 2G customers. Here is the of the message.
10/28/16 15:19
AT&T Free Message: ALERT! The 2G network will shut down at the end of December. Starting November 30, 2016, we may redirect your call to customer service to upgrade your phone for FREE. Certain features such as voicemail won't work during this time. To learn more or upgrade now, go to an AT&T store or call 866.650.1836.
So, there it is. Beginning on 30 November, AT&T will be redirecting your outgoing calls to their customer service center to upgrade your 2G handset. For those who have waited, AT&T will be stepping in to interrupt your service to make the upgrade.
Now, certainly they will not be intercepting every call—dailing 911 in the United States will connect you directly to emergency services. And one would imagine that they will only be intercepting calls placed while they have an available user agent standing by—interrupting your call to place you on hold would not be terribly effect in encouraging you to have a conversation about your 2G device.
So, there it is. AT&T will be disrupting outgoing call service to get you to talk to an agent about your 2G upgrade. No mention of directly calling the last few holdouts.
Because turning off your voicemail services certainly wouldn't do anything but encourage you!
07 November, 2016 — Update
Voicemail is dead! AT&T turned off voicemail services for 2G customers early in November. We'd forgotten how much more productive life is without voicemail.
When you are unable to answer a call, your caller is met with a wireless subscriber not available (396 KB) message in both English and Spanish.
Remind us not to configure voicemail in January.
12 November, 2016 — Update
Another robo-call yesterday reminding customers about the demise of the 2G network (493 KB). Same content as before.
Also, the pre-call reminder (209 KB) is now playing before the first call everyday, and has been for a while.
And we are inside of three weeks until AT&T begins diverting outgoing calls to their call center to "encourage" 2G customer upgrades. The promised date for that effort to begin is 30 November.
17 November, 2016 — Update
Inside of two weeks before AT&T involves their customer service force to "encourage" 2G upgrades, another standard SMS reminder.
11/17/16 10:47
AT&T Free Msg: Due to a planned 2G network shutdown your 2G phone won't work on the AT&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid a service disruption call 866.650.1836 or visit an AT&T store to replace your 2G phone for FREE.
Another marketing SMS tonight. Not exactly sure if this is an overt 2G upgrade message or just a coincidence—you decide.
11/17/16 17:41
AT&T Free Msg: A Gift from GoPhone, a FREE ZTE Maven 2 with min $30 payment at AT&T company owned retail stores only. Ends 12/31/16. Click here for details www.att.com/gophonenews Reply stop to end mktg msgs.
Alright, probably just a marketing message as they have offered similar handsets for no charge, not even the top-off on the account required for this deal.
29 November, 2016 — Update
Another full week of notifications from AT&T over the last seven days. The pre-call notification is still running before the first outgoing call of the day, the autocall was made again seven days ago and this SMS was sent as well.
11/22/16 10:09
AT&T Free Msg: Due to a planned 2G network shutdown your 2G phone won't work on the At&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid a service disruption call 866.650.1836 or visit an AT&T store to replace your 2G phone for FREE.
Nothing new, just the same old reminder messages through the standard channels.
But that changes tomorrow.
As promised, tomorrow AT&T will begin redirecting outgoing calls to their customer service representatives in order to upgrade their final lot of 2G customers to more modern mobiles. We would expect AT&T to play out the end game well before the final week of 2016 (holiday week in the United States), so expect their outgoing call interception program to begin with a bang.
Here are the subscriber alerts from the myAT&T Application advising of the outgoing call hijacking plans.
AT&T outgoing call interception announcement for 2G customers.
30 November, 2016 — Update
The most austere 2G sunset message appeared today in the myAT&T Application.
AT&T 2G network shutdown.
7 December, 2016 — Update
A week into the "may intercept outgoing call" period and we have not been diverted to a customer representative. Now, we haven't tried use the voice network excessively, just the normal number of outgoing calls—no outgoing call intercepts for us yet.
There have been no more robocalls or SMS warnings, but the pre-call announcement is still playing before the first outgoing call each day.
9 December, 2016 — Update
AT&T is turning to the US Postal Service to do its bidding. Today a letter arrived in the mail (letters have more gravitas—at least that's what your mother would say) bearing the bold proclamation on the envelope
Action required to keep your AT&T GoPhone wireless service
The single page letter inside read as follows.
For mobile number ending in 0123

Hi Valued Customer,

We're shutting down the 2G network by the end of December 2016. Replace your 2G phone now to avoid a service disruption. But don't worry, we're here to help.

Exchange your current 2G phone for a FREE* flip phone or smartphone with no upgrade fees. Please call 866.650.1836 or bring this letter to your local AT&T store before December 17, 2016.

To find an AT&T store near you, go to att.com/storelocator. For more information about the 2G network shutdown, go to att.com/go2Gupgrade

Thanks for choosing us.
AT&T

P.S. Time is running out! Replace your 2G phone now to avoid service disruption.

*Limited time offer, on select phones while supplies last. Valid for this account only. Call 866.650.1836 or go to an AT&T store for details.
So, there it is in black and white—before December 17, 2016. Now, that probably isn't a hard and fast date for throwing the 2G network switch to off, it is probably just a deadline to encourage compliance.
If you're curious about what devices AT&T is offering, calling in your upgrade will give the choice of ZTE Maven 2 or AT&T Z223. Visiting a store, the Maven is still there, but the flip phone option is the LG B470.
12 December, 2016 — Update
For the first time in a long time the pre-call message announcing the 2G network demise was not the first thing we heard during our first outgoing call of the day. Ironically, it wasn't obvious that it wasn't played, being so used to ignoring it, we didn't notice we weren't ignoring it.
Now, we have no way of knowing if it is gone for good or if AT&T was just napping this morning. Since the 2G network has less than three weeks to live, it might be gone for good.
And then, just hours after it looked like the media barrage was waning, the auto-call was back with the standard network shutdown message. Here is the 2G network shutdown audio (861 KB) from today.
Similar message, different medium.
14 December, 2016 — Update
The SMS update is back, sixteen days shy of the 2G network sunset. The content is the same message as last time.
12/14/16 13:45
AT&T Free Msg: Due to a planned 2G network shutdown your 2G phone won't work on the At&T network after December 31, 2016. To avoid a service disruption call 866.650.1836 or visit an AT&T store to replace your 2G phone for FREE.
Looks like AT&T is going continue repeating the message about the 2G network shutdown. They certainly are keeping their customers informed—transparency about the process, just as they promised years ago.
The 2G network shutdown and FREE phone upgrade (with the same information as in their physical letter of 9 December) messages have also come back in the myAT&T application.
We haven't yet had an outgoing call intercepted and rerouted to the AT&T customer service center, despite our sole use of the AT&T 2G network.
15 December, 2016 — Update
An SMS update again today (that's twenty-six hours after the last one for those of you who are counting).
12/15/16 14:45
AT&T Free Msg: Replace your 2G phone with a FREE flip phone or smartphone when you call 866.650.1836 or visit an AT&T store before December 31, 2016. Limited-time offer, on select phones while supplies last. Valid for this account only. Reply stop to end mktg. msgs.
21 December, 2016 — Update
After seven days of silence, with just ten days to go until the 2G sunset, AT&T came out firing with both barrels today. First was an autocall beginning with "Urgent, final notice" and repeating the 2G shutdown message. The audio of that call is here (547 KB).
Then came the threatened imperius curse of telecommunications—the outgoing call diversion to customer service. The notice of redirection sounded like this (498 KB), and, just like the imperius curse, AT&T controls your mobile. No outgoing calls other than the one to customer service is allowed.
Imperio indeed.
And then one last "reminder" near the close of the day.
12/21/16 22:17
AT&T Free Msg: Thank you for choosing AT&T! We appreciate your business. Due to planned network upgrades your device will no longer work on the AT&T network after December 2016. To avoid service disruption, upgrade to a 4G LTE device as soon as possible. For more information visit www.att.com/2Gupgrade
The message is very similar to standard text AT&T has been using since March, but with one little wrinkle—they only suggest an upgrade to 4G LTE devices. Certainly that is an oversight; AT&T is offering two 3G flip phones to their current 2G customers. Just reiterates corporate focus on the data network—were the profits are found.
22 December, 2016 — Update
The "Urgent, final notice" phrasing is back today via SMS, just twelve hours after the last SMS.
12/22/16 10:24
AT&T Free Msg: URGENT - final notice! The 2G network is shutting down and your phone won't work after December 31, 2016. To avoid service disruption, replace your 2G phone for FREE at an AT&T store or by calling 866.650.1836.
It looks like the notifications are over—AT&T has given the final notice. That's it folks, just under ten days remain before the sunset of the AT&T 2G network.
1 January, 2017 — Update
Um ... the AT&T 2G network is still with us, largely in the same footprint as it was last week, as far as we can tell. While some may have been expecting a cataclysmic end to the AT&T 2G network last night at midnight—utter radio silence like the vocal content of Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve performance in New York, it didn't happen.
Now, don't be alarmed, it wasn't all a ruse. The 2G network will give way for the betterment of the packet data prioritized 4G network, but yesterday was Saturday. Today is a Sunday. Tomorrow is the federal holiday. Rolling out a major network change while most of the workforce is away is a very bad idea.
And AT&T still has to wait for all those replacement phones to make it around the country to their customers—they certainly wouldn't turn off 2G customers who haven't received their replacement phones yet.
The lingering questions are still, "when exactly it will happen in each market?" and "will be all at once?". We'd say don't wait long to find out—AT&T should be clear to decommission the 2G network within the week. When it will actually happen, only the Death Star knows.
3 January, 2017 — Update
The sun has set.
At 6:12 AM cron sent a website report via SMS. By 6:20 AM there was no AT&T 2G signal.
17 January, 2017 — Update
In addition to following the notices from AT&T, we've also been filming a 2G phone through the final days of the AT&T 2G network. Our love story is told below.
Or directly on YouTube.
And the official notification from AT&T of the completion of the 2G sunset.
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