USA: The Coming 3G Voice Apocalypse

  • Folks, does anybody have any meaning thoughts on the coming 3G voice apocalypse? For those of you blissfully unaware, all the major phone carriers are shutting down their 2G/3G LTE voice networks (but not data networks) by the end of 2021. CDMA voice networks (Sprint) gets another year or so, but they are also getting the axe eventually. I have a Nexus 5 (hammerhead) and the specs say that it supports 4G, so hopefully it will still work after the apocalypse. If not I'm hoping the Pine Phone works and support for it has improved. And on a personal note, I have a whole box of old phones I'm going to have to toss.

    But I'm wondering if at some point folks using UT on phones that don't support 4G will wake up one morning not being able to make or receive voice calls and wonder why.

  • Not everyone lives in USA... So coro... euuuu 3G or Volte "apocalypse" is not an issue for all.
    Here in France, 3G or Voice LTE (4G) is living a good life for still long.

    Wanted to say that because your topic seems unclear on that.

    You should modify title "USA : The Coming 3G Voice Apocalypse"

  • @Keneda Yes and fortunately, because in France, there are a lot of places where we are not in "4G". For example, where I am now, I'm on "H" 95% of the time... even if i can use a "4G" UT phone..

  • @nontrivial For those of us that are subject to the termination of the 3g network, all is not lost. Yes, by the end of 2021 the big three will have shutdown their 3g voice networks (Verizon - now, T-mobile - Jan 2021, AT&T - Jan 2022). There are outliers - Sprint's network, and the regional carriers will retain 2g/3g voice for a while if indefinately.

    For us not under the footprint of those outliers, our options vary. First, Verizon, and AT&T are planning to "red-list" non-VoLTE phones by imei, therefore by model. This will prevent those phones from accesing their networks, period. T-mobile does not use such lists, they let the device capability determine whether it can access the network. So, for now it seems T-mobile will still be an option for those devices as data only devices.

    So, what about call capability? Those will have to be made using Voip. How does that work? You will need to sign up with a residential (or business) voip provider and use a web based softphone or an app dialer such as Linphone, Ekiga, simple sip, etc. Linphone is available in the openstore. Using an android softphone could be a possibility if Anbox matures. Libertine has softphones (empathy, Ekiga, pidgin, etc.) that do work. I've tried them. But they take a bit to set up.

    Then, if QT is updated enough, web based softphones could be used such as google voice. Hangouts currently works, but hangouts is being retired “soon" according to google.

    Hopefully by the time this becomes necessary, one of these options will have worked itself out as a satisfactory solution.

  • Just saying I dont believe that calls will be affected that much, 3G will be switched off, but that should keep GSM/CDMA 2G etc in place? At least thats what Europe will do. So your old device will just not have a good data rate, but calls should be fine.

    Of course not if you get blacklisted. I really don´t understand carriers, thats a stupid idea. Technically this is unnecessary.

  • Sorry @Flohack
    According to digidotcom, the carriers in the US have already started to shutdown the 2g network too.

  • @Rondarius
    I read your post and thought: "we may have high mobile data rates in Canada, but the government wouldn't let the carriers shut down the 2+3g networks... "

    Then I looked it up and found out that it has pretty much happened already. With more than half the users nationally already cut off from 2g by 2018. And there was no appocalypse... I mean half of the service providers only provide 4g anyways, and only the big three ever had 2g at all.

    It is a thing though according to this:

  • @Flohack No, they really are forcing everyone to upgrade to a 4g VoLTE or 5g phone accross the board in the N. American market. 2g/3g voice service will be cut off by 2022 across the board.

    It's all about the big push for 5g services and is being driven by the industry with the government's blessing. They want the bands for 5g, and spectrum sharing hasn't worked out. So... bye bye 2g/3g.

  • Hmm this is bad news. VoLTE is a proprieatary technology mostly, there is no documentation so we have no clue what to do for it. Its communication between the ril daemon and some Android services, but its highly cryptic. I am not sure we ill be able to provide quick solutions there.

    It might be on the other hand that some devices default to VoLTE being switched on already from boot. You might notice this with a higher audio quality in calls.

  • in case that someone is curios...
    @Flohack , but as you said, if the software is proprietary, then is Scheiße

  • @Flohack Now you understand why i've been so hot on VoLTE. Fortunately, at least on the Nexus 6P, the current radio is set to default VoLTE first - and I am getting calls via VoLTE. A later radio blocks VoLTE on the N6P because Verizon made Google remove that access as part of an exclusive handset deal with the Pixel phones, but I know how to re-enable it. So it won't be a problem unless halium gets upgraded to a much newer build. It may limit my network options though because of blacklisting. But i'm in a t-mobile area anyway so i'm good, and unless they change their mind, AT&T had the N6P as good. Only Verizon may be a problem in that regard.

  • @Flohack I also think I know how to enable Wi-fi calling - the radio is set to try WiFi calling first, VoLTE second, then the old carrier switched 2g network, but it needs account info set up in the dialer. But the dialer doesn't seem to allow any account to set up despite the feature being in the app. So, kind of stuck there. And it could be that some other handshake has to happen that UT doesn't do, so it may not work, but I can't find out for sure either way because of the dialer account thing.

    The other option is to go with a data only sim and use all Voip which of course gives you calls over data no matter whether on cell or WiFi - and therefore the equivalent to VoLTE and WiFi calling. And explains why I've been asking so many questions about voip and UT.

  • Hmm if you can share technical details of VoLTE implementations please go ahead 🙂 We need such informations.

    Re WiFi calling: This cannot work with current state of UT. YOu have to imagine we need a whole new middleware service that actually does the whole lifting of connection management, and voice call routing. WiFi calling does not happen in the modem, and the current dialer/telepathy-ofono/ofono/rild stack is the only one you have. Any calls ends up just in RILD. And thats not what you want in WiFi calling.

    I am afraid WiFi calling will still take a few years, no joke. Its just smth we to reverse-engineer completly. You need sources of the IMS daemons and services.

  • @C0n57an71n That list is not totally accurate regarding the Nexus 5. Yes, it has hardware capable of 4g VoLTE. But, because the US and EU carriers insisted that VoLTE phones have automatic 2g/3g fallback, google did not create a VoLTE capable radio software for the N5 - because having first generation VoLTE hardware it lacked the physical ability to automatically fallback to 2g/3g voice.

    However, that was not a problem in the chinese market where they were using only 4g anyway. So there is a radio for that market that is VoLTE enabled. If someone knows how to re-package that radio build for the american/euro market, VoLTE could be enabled.

  • @Flohack That's what I was afraid of - regarding WiFi calling, another handshake needed to move the call from cell to WiFi. Unfortunate.

    I've collected a lot of info on VoLTE and WiFi calling specs but none of it actual code. Just the agreed on specs of how it all works. Have no idea if that can help you, but i'll post links.

  • @Flohack I found something maybe useful. Actual code for how to enable VoLTE/VoWiFi on phones with qualcom modems.

  • @nontrivial
    Hello all, also Deutsche Telekom annouced on 18.09.2020 the shutdown of 3G in Germany mid 2021 (planned date: 30.06.2021).
    This date seems to be in line with the planning of Vodafone for Germany as well.
    O2 might support 3G until end of 2020.

    Further details can be found here:

  • Remember that this does not affect calls. Its only about mobile data, so the only thing you need to have on the radar is the fact if your device is 4G-capable. Ubuntu Touch will continue to work as today.

    Only removal of 2G will require VoLTE-capable devices and operating system.

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