Virgin Media O2 confirms 2025 3G shutdown

Virgin Media O2 confirms 2025 3G shutdown

O2 on wall.jpg

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has announced that it will start to switch off 3G services in 2025 as part of its ongoing network transformation.

VMO2 said this will help it to further expand and upgrade its 4G and 5G connectivity, reduce energy consumption and deliver enhanced speeds and reliability for its customers.

In December 2021, the UK government and the mobile industry committed to switching off 2G and 3G services by 2033. 3G services come first because 2G is often still relied upon as a backup network when other service are not available, and for machine to machine interactions such as smart metres.

In the US for example, 3G sunsetting has already happened, but T-Mobile don’t plan to shut down 2G until next year.

“3G was once an exciting new development for telecoms providers that brought new opportunities for customers. But as we continue to evolve our network to provide the best mobile connectivity, it is clear that switching off 3G and focusing our attention and investment on the faster, more reliable and more efficient 4G and 5G services is the right thing to do for our customers, our business and the environment,” said Jeanie York, VMO2’s CTO.

As reported by Capacity in July, VMO2 mobile customers spent 84% of their time connected to 4G servicescompared to other mobile data technology. 3G carries just 4% of the data transmitted across VMO2’s network, but accounts for 11% of its energy consumption.

VMO2 said its 4G and 5G services are 10x more efficient, and spectrum that was used for 3G could be repurposed for 4G and 5G.

VMO2 said this will improve customers’ experience with faster data speeds, more reliable streaming and higher-quality voice call services.

The programme will see 3G switched off in phases across the country, with 3G connectivity expected to be fully switched off by the end of 2025.

With consumers in mind, York said that VMO2 plan to “communicate directly with our customers to explain what this means for them and outline any steps they should take in the next 18 months.”

While most consumers will not need to take any action, the shutdown is more likely to effect VMO2’s customers at risk of digital exclusion with older devices.

The mobile network operator has partnered with Good Things Foundation to mitigate the impact.

“Good Things Foundation has been working with Virgin Media O2 since 2021, when together we set up the National Databank to provide mobile data to low income customers at risk of digital exclusion,” Helen Milner, chief executive of Good Things Foundation said.

“Our expertise and insights can help deliver Virgin Media O2’s ambition to ensure all its customers, particularly those from vulnerable groups, are fully supported through the transition away from 3G, so their connectivity is safeguarded and maintained,” she continued.

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