Vodafone Completes 3G Network Switch Off In UK

Vodafone has confirmed that its 3G network in the United Kingdom has now been switch off, other than a handful of location exceptions.

The mobile operator announced on Tuesday that it had successfully switched off its legacy 3G network across the country, and the “last remaining 3G radio frequencies will be repurposed to strengthen Vodafone’s 4G and 5G services in the UK,”, which means “customers across more parts of the UK can access faster data services and clearer voice calls.”

It comes after BT Group and its EE mobile division also confirmed this week that its final 3G mobile site location has been switched off in Belfast, Northern Island, after more than 20 years of operation.

3G network

In late 2021 the UK government had announced that the second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) mobile networks would be switched off in 2033, in order to bolster the UK’s mobile security, and encourage operators to deliver 5G networks.

Vodafone’s 3G network switch off in February 2024 is not 100 percent however, after the operator confirmed that “a small number of locations with UK security significance, as well as a handful of remote rural communities, will remain switched on for a short period of time after the main national switch off.”

Vodafone had said in January 2022 that it would begin the retirement of its 3G network in 2023.

Since that time, the operator began notifying its customers (across both consumer and business) who could have been affected by the switch off, offering information and advice such as how to carry out software upgrades where required, and how to activate services such as 4G Calling.

Better 4G, 5G

“The 3G legacy switch off has been a massive programme and I’d like to thank my team for their hard work to make this a success.,” said Vodafone’s UK Network Director, Andrea Dona. “With switch off complete, we can start to redeploy the remaining spectrum which will ultimately lead to stronger and faster 4G and 5G across the UK.”

“All on top of our existing 4G and 5G network improvement programmes,” said Dona. “Good news for our customers, businesses and the wider UK economy.”

Vodafone also said that the retirement of it’s 3G network is an important part of it’s strategy to reach Net Zero by 2027, as modern 5G networks are 10 times more energy efficient than the 3G network.

As part of its proposed merger with Three UK, Vodafone UK has pledged to invest £11 billion over the next 10 years and deliver 5G Standalone (5G SA) to 99 percent of the UK population by 2034.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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