Today, Verizon is once again announcing that it's shutting down its 3G network, and this time, the carrier says it's not moving back the date again. After the end of 2022, its CDMA 3G network will be shut down for good.
According to Verizon, just 1% of its customers use the legacy network at all. After all, the world has moved on to 4G and 5G, and carriers started lighting up 4G LTE back in 2010. Indeed, these major changes in connectivity come roughly once a decade.
As of right now, you can't even activate a new 3G-only device on Verizon's network. Of course, it's been a while since a 3G-only device was made. With Qualcomm-powered phones, you'd need something with a Snapdragon 200, which is a chip last seen in 2016 or so in devices that are way too inexpensive to be expected to still work well in 2021.
Verizon shutting down its 3G network also solves a problem from years ago, which was that most unlocked phones didn't work on the carrier's network. Verizon used CDMA for 3G, as did Sprint, but most of the world, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., used GSM. 4G LTE, on the other hand, is a global standard. Verizon still chooses which devices to allow on its network, but at least it's not a technical limitation anymore.
If you're somehow still using a 3G-only device on Verizon, the company is going to start encouraging you to upgrade to something newer and better. After all, it's not just that a switch is going to get flipped on December 31, 2022. CDMA sites are going to get shut down between now and then, so the service should get progressively worse between now and then.
Verizon first planned to shut down its 3G network by the end of 2019 and then by the end of 2020, extending the deadline each time. This time, the carrier says that the 2022 date will not change.