On 28 February 2023, Vodafone commenced the retirement of its UK 3G network by switching off 3G across the Plymouth and Basingstoke areas, as part of plans to switch off the entire network by December 2023. It’s not alone β€” EE, Three and O2 are also phasing out the service.

  • EE will phase out services throughout 2023, with plans to close the network in early 2024
  • Three expects to have closed its 3G offering by the end of 2024
  • O2 has not specified when it will close down 2G and 3G services but, as it stands, it will be the only network offering 3G by 2025

Virtual networks, such as Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and Smarty, piggyback off the Big Four’s networks. As such, their 3G offerings will end in line with their parent network.

The switch off comes as faster, upgraded networks become more widely available. Three, for example, claims 5G usage on its network has increased by 358 per cent in the past year. There’s only a limited amount of spectrum available, so something has to give.

What does it mean for my mobile phone? πŸ“±

Most phone users will have a device that also supports 4G services, so nothing will change. If you have an older phone, your options are to upgrade to a 4G-compatible device or purchase a SIM with a network that still supports 3G when it’s turned off by your current provider. The safest bet would be O2, but it’s not a permanent fix.

Want to upgrade your business mobile? Crystaline partners with all major device manufacturers and network operators to supply 4G and 5G-compatible devices. Learn more about our mobile offering by contacting the team.