The UK’s ‘big four’ mobile networks are preparing to switch off their 3G networks. Here’s what you need to know.
The demand for faster, more reliable mobile internet connectivity, as well as the increasing use of applications such as video streaming and gaming, is driving the industry to move to newer 4G and 5G networks.
Unfortunately, the radio frequency that wireless communications signals travel over (known as spectrum), is limited and therefore shutting down the older 3G networks will make space for the newer network.
The 3G mobile networks from the biggest operators in the UK will be phased out by 2033.
|Mobile network operator||Switch off||Other providers affected|
|EE||EE plans to switch off their 3G network in 2024.||BT, Plusnet and Utility Warehouse use EE’s 3G network|
|O2||O2 don’t currently have a timescale for the switch off their network but keep up to date with their latest news on their website.||Giffgaff, Sky and Tesco mobile use O2’s 3G network|
|Three||Three plans to switch off their 3G network by the end of 2024.||ID and Smarty use Three’s 3G network|
|Vodafone||Vodafone plans to switch off their network by December 2023.||Asda mobile, Lebara, Talkmobile, Virgin Mobile and VOXI use Vodafone’s 3G network|
Your provider should contact you if you will be affected and advise what steps you need to take.
Devices that support 4G or 5G services should be unaffected. You can check this in your phone’s settings or by looking online – search for the make and model of your device or find the phone on the manufacturer’s website to see if the specifications include 4G/5G.
Devices on the 2G network will still be able to make calls and send text messages but will only be able to access data services if the device can connect to Wi-Fi.
For more information including tips for the switch off visit our 3G mobile network switch off page.