Vodafone will start turning off its 3G network in 2023 as part of plans to improve 4G and 5G services for customers, the mobile operator has announced.
The telecoms firm said the programme will see 3G coverage gradually phased out and replaced by strengthened 4G and 5G services, which offer faster, more reliable connectivity.
The 3G shutdown comes 17 years after Vodafone launched its coverage in the UK, with the network having handled nearly 500 billion minutes of calls, the company said, but comes as reliance on it continues to decrease – according to Vodafone less than 4% of data on its network travels on 3G today, compared to more than 30% in 2016.
The mobile operator also said that the move away from 3G would help reduce the firm’s environmental impact, saying modern 5G networks were more than 10 times as energy efficient as old 3G equipment.
“We’re building the UK’s most reliable mobile network, and focusing on the technologies that best connect our customers and have the least impact on the environment,” Vodafone chief executive Ahmed Essam said.
“3G has connected so many customers over the last 17 years, but the future is 4G and 5G.
“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.
“We start communicating to customers about this today – our goal is for everyone to stay connected, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that’s the case.
“During the campaign, we’ll be asking customers not just to make sure that their own phone supports 4G and 4G Calling, but also to check in on friends and family.
“There are people who aren’t confident with technology, and we want to ensure everyone is getting the help that they need, so that no one is left behind.”
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