Mobile experts reveal millions of people could soon be left without a mobile phone internet connection as Vodafone becomes the first network provider to switch off its 3G network this month. But how will this impact mobile users across the UK? Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, comments:
The UK’s mobile services currently use four different generations of mobile technology: 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. But, all mobile providers have confirmed with the UK Government that they will stop offering their 2G and 3G services before 2033. This is to make additional space for the more advanced 4G and 5G networks. These networks will be further developed to enable faster download speeds, better-quality streaming outputs and an overall more reliable experience.
For the industry, focusing investment on 4G and 5G networks is a sensible move to ensure users have access to faster and more reliable services, both now and in the future. However – it’s important to make sure no one gets left behind and that those relying on 3G networks are not caught unaware.
Who will be affected by the 3G shutdown?
3G is a service used by more than 30 million Brits. But USwitch’s research shows that over 15 million Brits aren’t aware that 3G is being phased out, or how this will impact their ability to get online.
The good news for the majority of mobile users who have upgraded to a 4G or 5G enabled device and plan – you are unlikely to be impacted by this change, although you may still need a quick software update to stay connected.
People still using 3G-enabled smartphones that cannot access the more modern networks will need to upgrade their handset soon or risk losing access to their mobile data altogether.
If you are unsure about whether you will need to upgrade your handset, don’t fear. Your mobile provider will contact you to let you know if you are affected and they will explain your next steps.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford a new device, let your provider know. They might be able to offer additional support and help with identifying affordable options.
When do other providers plan to shut down their 3G networks?
Vodafone’s 3G shutdown will also directly impact its sub-providers, including Lebara Mobile, Asda Mobile, Talk Mobile and VOXI, who piggyback on the Vodafone network.
Looking ahead, Vodafone will not be the only provider to switch off its 3G network. EE also plans to start its switch-off in early 2024, and Three aims to switch off its entire 3G network by the end of 2024. O2 has not yet announced plans to withdraw its 3G network – but as the Government has requested for all 3G networks to be closed by 2033, it is likely that they will follow shortly.
3G networks are also being shut down across the world. This means that if your handset doesn’t support 4G or 5G, then you will be unlikely to use data roaming while abroad.