Yesterday, Verizon announced 2021 as the retirement date for their CDMA networks. This would include the 2G voice and the 3G EVDO networks. To accomplish this Verizon will need to develop Rich Communication Services (RCS) for their LTE network and change out customer handsets. 9 years should allow this to be a smooth transition. Verizon has clarified that this is more of a planning horizon. Rich Communication Services is the route carriers are taking to retain their voice customers. RCS is essentially Carrier Voice over IP (VoIP). It will likely be the only VoIP service that will be capable of delivering E911 location information as is required today. Obviously when every phone (device) only has a data connection, many VoIP solutions will be competing for the mobile customer.
In looking at Verizon's web site, I can purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 for $349.99 and have 4GB of data monthly for $30.00/mo, no contract. I agree that this 7" tablet is a little big for a phone, but it does fit in my back pocket. For $30/mo, I can have both voice and data using Skype, OOMA, or ClevorConnect for a small monthly fee. For an iPhone with a 4GB data plan, I would be paying $110/mo for access. Once the LTE network matures, covering homes, highways, and interstates between cities, an $80/mo savings will be pretty attractive.
Verizon's "shut down" statement also causes me to wonder why Sprint will be spending 3 years and multiple billions of dollars, modernizing their CDMA network. I understand the enhancements to coverage that Network Vision provides and the unfortunate lack of other spectrum partners (Lightsquared) to use their new base stations, but I certainly hope that Sprint ran the numbers on developing a Nextel Push-to-Talk (PTT) solution on a WCDMA platform, before launching down the current path. At this point, it appears that Sprint will be the primary US carrier pushing for continued support and development on the CDMA platform.
How are carriers going to prevent being only data providers without the current high dollar voice services?