Vodafone Will Switch Off 3G From 2023

Less than 4% of current data traffic across the network is on 3G compared to over 30% in 2016.

17 years or so since it was first switched on, Vodafone are preparing to flick the off switch for 3G in the UK.

The operator announced on Tuesday that it will begin phasing out the 3G service in 2023 as part of a network upgrade to improve the performance of their 4G and 5G networks.

“3G has connected so many customers over the last 17 years, but the future is 4G and 5G. We’re going to be focused on giving customers a faster and more reliable mobile experience, and minimising our impact on the environment by taking away a layer of our network that uses inefficient equipment,” said a statement from Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam.

Vodafone confirmed that just 4 percent of the mobile data traffic carried on its networks use 3G. That’s down from more than 30 percent in 2016. There are two reasons for this: one is that the majority of Vodafone customers use 4G-enabled phones, and the other is that Vodafone has already switched over most of its 3G network spectrum.

“Vodafone’s planned retirement of its UK 3G network represents a positive move away from legacy technology towards more efficient 4G and 5G services,” said Sharad Sharma, VP and head of network and B2B at IT services provider NTT Data, in a research note. “Not only do 4G and 5G enable Vodafone to provide faster and more reliable services for its customers, but the greater efficiency of these technologies also supports Vodafone in its strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions across its UK operations by 2027.”

Vodafone are the second UK mobile operator after EE to announce it is switching off 3G. EE plan to phase out its 3G network from January 2023. O2 and Three UK have yet to announce their switch-off plans.

Those customers that haven’t upgrading their phone since 2013 run the risk of losing connectivity from next year if they don’t upgrade to a 4G (or 5G) ready phone so no doubt Vodafone will be contacting those customers in an effort to ensure they remain connected.

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