Following the successful switch-off pilots across Plymouth and Basingstoke in February 2023, Vodafone UK has announced its plan to switch off 3G from June 2023. The operator’s 3G network was launched in 2004.
The company disclosed this plans to start gradually phasing out its 3G network coverage in the UK, replacing it with strengthened 4G and 5G services.
Vodafone UK said that 3G use has “dropped significantly”, flagging this as a major driver for the shutdown. The operator noted that less than 4% of data traffic on its UK network uses 3G — down from 30% in 2016.
According to the telco, the 3G switch off will allows 3G radio frequencies to be used for faster, more efficient 4G and 5G services while 2G will remain for calls and texts with services such as Voice over 4G and WiFi Calling also available.
Vodafone said, the decision to switch off 3G – which is in line with all UK mobile network operators – will see 3G coverage gradually phased out and replaced by strengthened 4G and 5G services, so customers across more parts of the UK can access more reliable connectivity. Vodafone’s 2G network, which currently covers over 99% of the UK population, will remain in place for calls and texts.
Also, the telco stated that the retirement of Vodafone’s 3G network is also an important part of the strategy to reach Net Zero for its UK operation by 2027, with modern 5G networks being much more energy efficient. Sending a terabyte of data across the 5G network uses just 7% of the energy used to send the same amount of data across the 3G network.
Speaking on the development, Vodafone’s UK Chief Network Officer, Andrea Dona, said: “Our focus is to continue building the UK’s most reliable mobile network. To continue to do this, we need to ensure our technologies are fit for purpose.
“3G use has already dropped significantly, as most of Vodafone’s customers now use the 4G network. Currently less than 4% of data is used on our 3G network, in comparison to more than 30% in 2016.
“We’re also strengthening and improving our 4G and 5G coverage and this can only mean good news for our customers, as well as the wider UK economy.
At the same time, we’ve been working hard to make sure our customers are fully aware and have the information and tools they need to support themselves, as well as friends and family, through the programme.
“The Digital Skills Helpline is a great asset, bringing customers the skills they may need to make the most of their device. On this solid bedrock, now is the time to switch off 3G and focus on the current benefits and future possibilities of our 4G and 5G networks.”
3G Switch-off Is Coming: Here’s What You Need To Do
Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. As of March 2022, the comapny have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Its 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.
In 2023 Vodafone Iill switch off 3G in the UK, so it’s time to check your phone – and to check-in on your relatives and neighbours – to see if and how you’ll be affected by the switch-off.
The national shutdown will happen in phases throughout the remainder of 2023, starting in June with Hull, Oxford and Greater London before progressing across the South. The remainder of the UK will follow later in the year.
Vodafone has information available to make sure that consumers are aware of its intention to switch off 3G and have the information they need to prepare, as well as helping friends, family members and loved ones to do the same.
This includes instructions on how to check if a mobile device is 4G-capable and how to carry out software upgrades where required after the switch off 3G agenda. It also contains further information on services such as 4G Calling, which enables customers to make and receive calls over the 4G network*.