Sint Maarten-based TelEm’s cellular division TelCell will shut down its 2G GSM network on 1 January 2019. It confirms in a notice to subscribers on its website that 31 December 2018 will be the last day 2G-only mobile devices will work on its voice/data network, warning remaining users that they must upgrade to a 3G/4G device to continue receiving services. It also advises customers to upgrade their SIM card to an LTE-compatible one.
Hurricane Irma caused devastation in Sint Maarten in September 2017 – less than a week after TelEm had launched its 4G LTE network – forcing TelEm and rival operator UTS to focus on emergency repair and network service restoration. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the extensive damage also had the knock-on effect of accelerating the demise of 2G networks in Sint Maarten. Whilst both cellcos committed themselves to restoring all 3G/4G infrastructure, UTS shut down its 2G services permanently in September 2017, whilst TelEm indicated that it would not be long before it followed suit, in the event maintaining 2G services (with reduced coverage/capacity) for a further 15 months.