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Vodafone completes 3G network switch off

Vodafone has completed the switch off of its legacy 3G network, the mobile operator has said, as it repurposes 3G radio frequencies to be used by newer 4G and 5G networks.

The 3G switch off is being carried out by all major mobile operators to free up network space for 4G and 5G, which allow for faster data services and better voice calls.

Confirmation of the completion of Vodafone’s switch off follows a similar announcement from EE, while Three has previously said it will turn off its 3G network by the end of 2024.

Comparison site Uswitch said that while the 3G switch off would not impact the majority of users, older device users may have to take some action.

“The 3G switch off is essential for freeing-up the ‘network spectrum’ for 4G and 5G, which will ultimately be used to cope with the increasing demand our digital lives place on the network,” a Uswitch spokesperson said.

“The vast majority of phone users won’t need to do anything, but it is important to be aware this change is taking place, particularly for those with older relatives, who may rely on older handsets.

“Our recent research revealed that 2.7 million mobile users were still unsure if their device was ready for the switch off – with those age +75 more likely to be in this boat.

“While Vodafone and EE are both reporting their 3G switch-off now, other mobile phone providers will also soon be following suit, switching off 3G over the next couple of years.

“Mobile phone users should check device settings and make sure their phone is 4G or 5G ready, as well as ensuring they have the latest software and security updates.

“It’s important that no one is left behind so it’s worth checking in with friends and relatives too in case they have older devices.”

UK mobile phone networks stock
The logo of mobile phone network Vodafone is displayed (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Vodafone said it had been notifying customers since January 2022 of the upcoming national switch off to ensure a smooth transition for the public.

The firm’s UK network director, Andrea Dona, said: “The 3G legacy switch off has been a massive programme and I’d like to thank my team for their hard work to make this a success.

“With switch off complete, we can start to redeploy the remaining spectrum which will ultimately lead to stronger and faster 4G and 5G across the UK.

“All on top of our existing 4G and 5G network improvement programmes.

“Good news for our customers, businesses and the wider UK economy.”