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3G to shut down from 2023, says Vodafone UK boss

Ahmed Essam Vodafone UK.jpg

Vodafone UK is following the group’s German and Italian units by announcing plans to close down its 3G network.

The company said that 3G was carrying 30% of data traffic in 2016 but less than 4% now.

Vodafone CEO Ahmed Essam (pictured), said: “3G has connected so many customers over the last 17 years, but the future is 4G and 5G.”

The UK company said 3G services would be phased out from next year, but it didn’t say how long that process will last.

The company said: “To help ensure a smooth transition to 4G and 5G, Vodafone UK will use the Vodafone group’s experience in retiring 3G networks, with successful programmes already carried out in Germany and Italy.”

2G services will last a decade longer, said Vodafone. “We’ll be meeting the government’s ambition to turn off our 2G service by 2033 – so we won’t be retiring our 2G network anytime soon.”

Anyone with a 3G phone on the network, but no access to 4G or 5G, will find that “it’ll switch over to our 2G network”.

The first 3G network in the UK was launched on 3 March 2003 by Three UK, which yesterday was being reported as a potential takeover target for Vodafone UK.

Vodafone now faces a long promotional campaign to persuade 3G users to upgrade to 4G.

Essam said: “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.”

He said that “during the campaign, we’ll be asking customers not just to make sure that their own phone supports 4G and 4G Calling [voice over LTE or VoLTE], 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.”

The company has already launched a website to communicate with customers.

 

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