Vodafone has set a date for the switch off of its 3G network that is over 50 years old next year, with a promise that no one will be left behind.
Vodafone, which serves 18 million UK customers, will shut down the nearly two-decade-old network. Instead, it will use the spectrum to expand its 4G/5G networks.
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The company will however, be phasing out 3G in the same timeframe as EE-owner BT. This includes older customers who are not being enticed into the smartphone revolution.
Additionally, only 2.2% of the UK has 3G coverage. However, voice calling is possible in these areas due to the 2G signal.
Ahmed Essam is the chief executive at Vodafone UK. He stated that “We begin communicating with customers about this today.” “Our goal for everyone is to keep connected and we will do everything in our power to ensure that happens.”
Vodafone is launching an awareness campaign to ensure that customers don’t get left behind when 3G signal goes off next year. Vodafone estimates that over 2 million people still use 3G handsets in all parts of the UK’s mobile networks.
The company aims to encourage younger tech-savvy smartphone users to “check out” with their family and friends to determine if they might need to upgrade.
Essam stated that “there are people who don’t feel confident with technology.” “We want everyone to get the help they need so that no one is left behind,” Essam said.
The Good Things Foundation is partnering with organizations to promote digital inclusion. An announcement about a partner that focuses on older people will be made in the next few weeks.
Helen Milner, Good Things Foundation’s group chief executive, stated that “with the move away 3G, people may be disconnected, locked out, and left behind.”
Vodafone launched its 3G network in Britain in November 2004. It claims that less than 4% customers use the network today. In 2016, 30% of data was carried on the 3G network.
Essam stated that 3G has been a great connection for so many customers in the past 17 years. But, 4G and 5G are the future.
Vodafone has already shut down 3G networks in Germany, Italy and other countries. Vodafone claims that the switch-off will be good for the environment because it was built with inefficient equipment.
The transition will be done in stages and completed by next year.
Three and Virgin Media O2 are the UK’s two largest mobile operators. They have not yet announced plans to discontinue their 3G services. Hutchison, Three UK’s parent company paid PS4.4bn in 2000 for the UK’s initial 3G license. The first network was launched in March 2003 by the first operator.