Say bye-bye to 2G phones for evermore

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Say bye-bye to 2G phones for evermore

LG U+, the last carrier to offer prefixes other than 010 on mobile phone numbers, was allowed to suspend 2G services by the Ministry of Science and ICT Tuesday, marking the end of a 25-year era.  

 
LG U+ will dismantle its 2G network by late June.
 
LG was the last of Korea's three mobile carriers to keep 2G services going. KT suspended them in 2012 and SK Telecom, the biggest in Korea, in July 2020. 
 
That means from July, there will be no phones in Korea that use a prefix other than 010.   
 
Koreans used to have 011, 016 and 019 prefixes, depending on their mobile carrier. Some numbers date back to 1996, when SK Telecom first launched the 2G service.
 
In 2004, regulators ordered that all phones running on 3G networks and later must use 010. Some 2G network users stuck to their old numbers, even though they couldn't upgrade to smartphones that worked on 3G networks or later.
 
For the companies, keeping 2G connections going required maintenance and expenses for a small pool of customers. The science ministry agreed in 2019 to allow a final suspension of 2G services in June 2021.
 
In January, the science ministry turned down LG U+'s service suspension request, asking for additional documents. On Tuesday, the ministry granted permission on the condition that the carrier do some things for its 2G customers.  
 
As of mid-May, 140,000 LG U+ subscribers were using 2G networks, 0.82 percent of the carrier’s customer base.
 
They will be offered discounts on plans using 4G LTE or 5G network. They will all need new phones, and will be offered free smartphones from among 15 options. For the sake of convenience, 2G users must be able to make the shift to 4G or 5G via phone, without visiting a store. For customers over 65, an LG U+ employee can visit their homes.
 
LG U+ must share these obligation over the next 14 days, through at least two methods, including snail mail.
 
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON  [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
 

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