4G could lead to 3G networks being dismantled before 2G

4G could lead to 3G networks being dismantled before 2G

Mobile operators across the UK may consider switching off their 3G networks before dismantling their 2G infrastructure as a result of increased 4G adoption.

That is the main finding of research from Ovum, which claims the increased affordability of 4G within developed markets will cause many operators to redirect their resources accordingly.

However, the organisation adds that although some GSM and CDMA networks are being switched off in the US and in Asia, similar moves in the UK are unlikely to come into force in the markets such as the UK until at least 2020.  

The end of the decade is set to see a dramatic increase in both the quality and coverage of LTE networks, while the prospect of 5G may also start to emerge.

Ovum principal analyst Nicole McCormick said: “For operators in transition, there are key revenues – M2M, voice and roaming – that need to be considered in the trade-off when determining the optimal time to close the network.

“The amount of 2G, 3G, and LTE spectrum an operator has can also affect timing.”

Both 2G and 3G services could still generate revenue for operators over the next few years, but the ever-reducing number of users may prompt a re-think, and Ovum believes 3G could be first to be switched off.

Ms McCormick added: “Ovum believes that in some markets 3G networks may see closure before 2G ones. 2G is still an important source of revenue.

“LTE provides a better mobile broadband experience than 3G, and with VoLTE, LTE can handle the voice responsibilities of 3G. This points to the possibility that operators opt to close their 3G networks before they close 2G.”