• The third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology - 3G - is coming to an end, with newer standards like 4G and 5G taking its place.
  • Vodafone has become the first major network to shut down its 3G network, effective 15th December 2023.
  • Australians reliant on 3G-only devices, such as phones, will need to upgrade to newer, compatible technology.

As the rollout of 5G continues across Australia, mobile network operators are beginning to phase out 3G services entirely. 

Mobile network operators are phasing out 3G networks to maximise the use of limited spectrum. Vodafone led the way by shutting down its 3G network on 15th December 2023 and it has been the first to make room for newer technologies.

Telstra and Optus have already begun decommissioning parts of its 3G networks, reallocating the spectrum to enhance its 4G and 5G services. 

By discontinuing 3G, mobile companies can repurpose the spectrum for faster technologies like 4G and 5G. This improves service quality, device support, and operational efficiency.

Vodafone 3G shutdown

Vodafone has completed the shutdown of its 3G network, which previously carried less than 1% of its total mobile data traffic. 

The shutdown was preceded by efforts to inform and prepare consumers and enterprise customers well in advance.

Telstra 3G shutdown

Telstra is scheduled to cease all of its 3G services by June 30, 2024, ending nearly two decades of operation since 2006. 

Customers will need phones with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities to make and receive calls after the shutdown. If you're using a 3G-only device on the Telstra network that's still functional, it's time to consider upgrading. Nearly all phones currently available on the market offer 4G connectivity.

Optus 3G shutdown

Optus will be the last to shut down its 3G network, with plans to do so by September 2024. 

The re-farming of 3G technology will boost the capacity, speed, and reliability of its 4G network and facilitate the rollout of 5G to more users.

How will the 3G shutdown impact you? 

Around 2-3 million devices that rely solely on 3G technology will be affected by the upcoming shutdown. These include old phones, security systems, medical alarms, EFTPOS machines, and smartwatches.

If your 3G-only device is still working, it hasn't been impacted yet. Here's what you can do:

  • Contact your service provider for guidance.
  • Look up your device online or contact the manufacturer for more information.
  • Make sure to upgrade your devices before the 3G shutdown takes effect.

Rural resident concerns

The closure of 3G networks in Australia may leave nearly three-quarters of a million people unable to contact emergency services using their current phones. The government has set up a working group to help manage the transition from 3G to 4G smoothly.

However, it has been found that some customers using older 4G phones might mistakenly believe their devices will still work after the 3G shutdown. Some of these affected phones were released as recently as 2019 and include older iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

While these phones can make calls on the 4G network, they may not be able to call emergency services. Vodafone has already closed its 3G network, with Telstra and Optus set to follow suit on June 30, 2024, and September 1, 2024, respectively.

An estimated 740,000 phones could be affected, and the government's working group will collaborate with the major telcos to contact customers and check if their devices will be impacted.

Telstra is working closely with other mobile network operators, the ACMA, and the government to manage the transition from 3G to 4G and 5G, highlighting the significant investment in improving connectivity and productivity.

Need to upgrade?

To be ready for the upgrade, it may be worth checking whether your current 3G-enabled devices are going to work after the shutdown. Our latest article on 3G phones impacted by the shutdown can help, but so can talking to our team. Give us a call and we’ll talk you through what to do next.