Vodafone UK outlines 3G switch-off plans
The operator said that less than four percent of its data traffic across its network is currently delivered via 3G – a decrease from over 30 percent in 2016. It predicts that by the end of this year, traffic will have fallen even further
Currently, most traffic is carried over 4G, with an increasing amount moving over to 5G since it launched in 2019.
Vodafone plans repurpose the spectrum currently used for 3G to expand and strengthen its 4G and 5G services so that customers across the UK – a move currently being carried out by mobile operators across the world looking to increase bandwidth on the newer generations of connectivity.
Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam said: “We’re building the UK’s most reliable mobile networks and focusing on the technologies that best connect our customers and have the least impact on the environment.
“3G has connected so many customers over the last 17 years, but the future is 4G and 5G.”
Vodafone said that phasing out its 3G network will be a step towards its commitment to reach net-zero by 2027. 5G networks are more than ten times as energy-efficient as 3G equipment.
“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 Essam.
Although most customers are now using 4G-capable devices, Vodafone will be launching a campaign throughout 2022 to ensure that no customers are left behind. The campaign calls on its more tech-savvy customers to inform friends and family who may not be aware that Vodafone will be shuttering its 3G services. They’ll also be partnering with third parties such as The Good Things Foundation to reach the most vulnerable.
Helen Milner from The Good Things Foundation commented: “With the move away from 3G, people risk being disconnected, locked out and left behind. That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with Vodafone to ensure as many people as possible continue to have essential digital access they need.”
BT – along with subsidiaries EE and Plusnet – have all also announced plans to phase out 3G by 2023.
Philip Janson, chief executive of BT Group, said: “We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth. We’re making a uniquely ambitious, long-term commitment to drive high performance 5G further and faster, and to integrate it at the core with our fibre network for a seamless customer experience.”
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