AF guide to 3G switch-off
The government and UK mobile network operators agreed in 2021 that 3G in the UK will be switched off by 2033 at the latest.
Networks have already started working towards this, and some networks could have completed their switch-off by early 2024.
Why is it happening?
It will enable operators to focus on upgrading to faster, more reliable, and energy-efficient 4G and 5G networks to improve services for you, rather than focussing on maintaining existing 3G networks.
When is your network switching off 3G?
Vodafone’s original plan to complete switch-off by end of 2023 has been pushed back.
They’ve already switched 3G off in Plymouth, Basingstoke, Hull, Oxford and Glasgow (June 2023).
In January 2024, a full switch-off of 3G will begin and they will switch off 3G everywhere by February 2024.
O2’s planned 3G switch-off won’t begin until 2025.
Further information on when and where will be published by the network in due course and we’ll share updates with you as we get them.
EE has confirmed that it will begin a nationwide switch-off of its 3G service from January 2024.
EE expects to fully switched off by March 2024.
Are you switch-off ready?
- If you don’t have a 4G or 5G-ready phone, you’ll need to upgrade your device if you want to continue having mobile connectivity after the 3G network is switched off. Your AF Telecoms team can help you choose from the range of 4G and 5G compatible options available.
- If you have any modems/routers or other hardware using M2M sims (such as gates, door entry systems and alarms with sim cards), they will need to be 2G/4G/5G compatible. Your provider will be able to tell you if they are.
- Make sure your handsets and tariffs are Wi-Fi calling ready.
Most importantly don’t panic! Your AF Telecoms team is here to to help, so if you’re not sure whether you’re switch-off ready, you can ask us. If you aren’t, we can procure the new devices or sim cards you’ll need. Email us at email@example.com or call 01603 881 909.
Frequently asked questions
Why is 3G being switched off?
3G has been superseded by 4G and 5G networks in recent years, so the 3G network is carrying less and less traffic. By focusing investment on 4G and 5G networks, they can further expand and upgrade services, so users can benefit from faster download speeds and higher quality voice calls.
The programme will also contribute to network sustainability goals. 4G and 5G is significantly more energy-efficient compared to the use of older 3G equipment. 4G and 5G accounts for 96% of mobile network data traffic and is 10 times more efficient than 3G.
What is the plan for 2G?
UK networks have no planned timetable for switching 2G off at the moment, but they will switch it off by 2033.
What if I am in a poor coverage area already?
Where possible, use Wi-Fi calling whilst the networks are optimised for 4G and 5G. We can procure signal boosting and Wi-Fi boosters if you need them.