We’re saying goodbye to 3G and hello to faster, more reliable networks, but what does that mean for you and your business?

We’re well into 2023 which means the UK has started shutting down its 3G networks, starting with Vodafone, allowing the freed-up spectrum to go towards improving 4G and 5G coverage, ultimately increasing speeds and reliability to give us better connectivity on the go.

The UK shutdown 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 with a promise of greater speeds (with 5G an upwards of 10 times faster than 4G), as well as lower latency and better reliability.

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

If you have a modern smartphone or device you’re likely already using 4G or 5G, so you may not need to do anything. However, many devices still rely on the 3G network to function without us even realising it. We of course know that our smartphones, tablets and sometimes smartwatches rely on cellular connectivity, but some devices are less obvious and will need to be checked before the 3G network switch off to avoid needless headaches.

Some devices that are often overlooked are:

● Car Features

● Medical alert devices

● Fire / Care / Security Alarms

● CCTV / Security Systems

● Phone Systems

● Point of Sale / Payment Terminals

● Elevators / Lifts

● EV Chargers

● GPS / Inventory Trackers

These devices will likely require an update in order to continue to work without disruption. Your provider can confirm whether this is necessary depending on the device and provide instructions on how it should be done.

If you’re using an older device that doesn’t allow for an update to allow access to 4G or 5G then you will need to upgrade to a newer device.

If you’re 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 its 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 yet to announce a date, but we can likely expect it to be in 2024 too.

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, they might need to be upgraded to ensure 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-effectivesolution to meet your business needs. Get in touch here.

Can I still use my phone abroad?

If you’re travelling 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.

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 etc)

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. Your provider will be in touch if this pertains to you or your business.

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.