Vodafone has become the first UK telecoms service provider to confirm it will be switching off its 3G network because its bandwidth is increasingly being overtaken by new technological developments.
Speaking ahead of the launch of Vodafone 5G on July 3rd 2019, head of networks Andrea Dona told a gathering of journalists the company no longer has any real need for 3G and so plans to simply disconnect it.
“In the medium term, we will be switching off 3G because the use of the 3G band and what we get in return is not that efficient. We can use some of the 3G spectrum bands for 5G,” she pointed out, adding that the deadline is likely to be in the “next two to three years”.
This development was perhaps inevitable given the increasingly ubiquitous nature of 4G networks – since 4G can now offer similar coverage and supply the same services more quickly, 3G is effectively just taking up unnecessary bandwidth.
However, it may cause some upgrade headaches for those who have data connectivity through 3G-only mobile handsets or routers.
Interestingly, while 3G is making way for 4G and eventually 5G, Ms Dona explained the country’s 2G network is likely to continue to have a role to play, thanks to the Internet of Things.
She pointed out that appliances like smart meters and intelligent refrigerators need to be connected to the internet, but don’t necessarily need a lot of power or speed, which means 2G remains ideal.
First introduced in 1991, 2G’s low price, high coverage and ‘fast enough’ traits that were once viewed as lacking have now seen it outlive its one-time successor.
Meanwhile, 5G phones are expected to start selling towards the end of 2019, although widespread coverage may not be achieved until 2020 or even 2021.