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UK 3G network shut down & what it means for your business

March 6, 2024

Updated : Wednesday 13 September 2023.

We’re saying goodbye to 3G and hello to faster, more reliable networks.

It’s officially 2023 which means the UK has started shutting down its 3G networks, starting with Vodafone, with the aim of ensuring a reliable 4G and 5G throughout the country. The UK shut down follows the USA which has already successfully shut down all 3G networks. Within the next few years 3G and 2G will cease to exist globally. So why is this happening and what does it mean for you? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why is 3g being phased out in the uk?

The UK’s mobile services currently use four different generations of mobile technology: 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. The 3G networks have been around since 2003 and are used to deliver calls, texts, and lower speed data services - however 3G relies on older and less efficient technology than 4G and 5G.

By shutting down 3G (and eventually 2G), networks can focus on providing fast and reliable connectivity through 4G and 5G.

Will my phone / device still work after the 3G shutdown?

If you’re using a newer 4G or 5G device, you may not need to do anything. Some older devices might still require updates in order for calls to be transmitted through the right network—your provider can confirm whether this is necessary and provide instructions on how it should be done.

If you’re using an older device that doesn’t allow access to 4G or 5G then you will need to upgrade to a newer device. Not sure if your device is 4G/5G compatible? Ask our expert team about how to prepare for the turning off of the 3G network or about finding a device upgrade that works for you.

When will 3G phase out and stop working?

Globally each mobile provider has a different timeline, with the USA leading the way having already shut down their entire 3G network. In the UK we’ll see the first 3G network shutdown initiated this year by Vodafone.

EE and THREE Mobile plan to be initiated or fully shut down by 2024, and O2 has announced they will begin to phase out 3G in 2025.

What does this mean for my business? 

When we think of 3G / 4G / 5G we tend to think about common personal devices, like smart phones, computers and tablets - but other devices that you use daily in your business may still be affected by the 3G switch off such as phone systems, fire alarms, care alarms, security alarms and Point Of Sale (POS) / payment terminals. If your business uses devices like this, it might need to be upgraded to make sure it still works after the 3G networks are switched off. 

Need for new business devices? We're experts at finding you the best and most cost effective solution to meet your business needs. Get in touch here.

Can I still use my phone abroad?

If you’re traveling to a country where the switch-off has already begun, it might affect your roaming experience if your device isn't compatible with 4G or 5G. In some cases, you might not be able to make calls or access data unless you are connected to WiFi. It’s always best to check with a specialist before you travel.

Traveling for business and need a new device? We’re committed to finding you the best business mobile tariff to reduce costs and keep things hassle free when you need to travel - including dual sim options. Find out more here.

What do I need to do for the 3G shut off?

  1. Check if your devices are relying on the 3G network (this includes mobiles, handsets, computers, alarm systems and point of sale systems)
  2. If any of your devices still currently use 3G, check if they are compatible with the 4G or 5G networks.
  3. If so, you’re all set! If not, you will likely need to upgrade your devices to newer versions that are compatible.

How do you know if your devices are 4G / 5G compatible? How can you upgrade your business systems quickly and easily? DF Communications are leading industry experts in business connectivity and telecommunications. Our experts are dedicated to finding you the best solution for your business that fits your exact needs and budget. Get in touch here.

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