A Fond Farewell to 3G

Posted on Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 by Ned Bellavance

Featured in this episode of Chaos Lever

In 2008, I purchased my one and only iPhone, the iPhone 3G powered by AT&T. And it changed my mind on what a smartphone could be. I think we can safely say that between the App Store and 3G, the modern smartphone really arrived in 2008.

Before that point, I had been happy to carry my Blackberry running on what seemed like a perfectly capable GPRS and EDGE cellular connection. I had access to email, text messaging, and a chronic brick-breaker habit.

3G made the web accessible on a smart device. It made cellular modems on laptops useful. It made cellular a viable backup connection for remote offices. The 3G standard allowed for data transfers up to 42Mbps, compared to 170Kbps on 2G. You could stream data, have video calls, and do all the things on mobile we take for granted now.

And lo, 15 years later, time has come calling for 3G to take it’s place in the radio technology Valhalla. At the end of 2022, Verizon shut down its 3G CDMA network, being the last major carrier in the US to still support 3G. The technology has long since been supplanted by 4G and now even 5G, but there still are some people and machines using the erstwhile 3G network. Now, unless you’re running a private 3G installation, that option is closed in the US.

Thank you to 3G for bringing us the modern mobile computing era, I’ll pour some RF bands out for you on my oscilloscope.