Andrea Dona, Vodafone's UK Chief Network Officer, explains why the company is switching off its 3G network and what this means for customers.
Following our successful Basingstoke and Plymouth pilots in February, and as we look towards June when London, Oxford and Hull will be the next on our regional roadmap for 3G switch off, it’s important to reflect on why we are doing this.
A major factor in the decision is that 3G use has already dropped significantly as most of our customers now use the 4G network. Currently, less than 4% of data traffic on our UK network uses 3G. This is in comparison to more than 30% in 2016.
3G as a technology is limited, using old and outdated equipment and taking up valuable spectrum – spectrum which we are repurposing for our faster 4G and 5G services. It’s also energy hungry compared to our newer 4G and 5G networks, and therefore its retirement forms an important part of our UK business strategy to reach Net Zero by 2027.
Let’s not forget that 4% data statistic. Most of our customers are already using newer 4G and 5G devices. For those that are still using our 3G network, we’ve been communicating with them to help ensure they are prepared, whether that be upgrading to a newer 4G-capable device or doing simple checks to ensure 4G Calling is set up on their device and software is up-to-date.
And of course, 2G – which covers over 99% of the UK population – is still available for calls and texts.