“We have no current plans to close our 3G network,” says a Vodafone spokesperson.
“A large number of customers continue to rely on 3G services particularly for voice calls, especially in regional areas, as 3G call coverage is superior to 4G. As with our 2G closure, we want to ensure that any potential disruptions to our customers are thoroughly addressed before 3G network closure plans are considered.”
Optus has been contacted for comment.
As with the 2G shutdown, some Australians will be forced to upgrade their phones to keep up with the changes. Telstra began selling 4G-capable handsets when the network launched in 2006. It no longer sells 3G-only post-paid phones, and will stop selling 3G-only prepaid devices in March 2020.
Affected devices include the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, with Apple launching its first 4G-capable phone in 2012 in the iPhone 5. The same year, Samsung launched the Galaxy S III 4G.
With years to prepare, the 3G shutdown is unlikely to impact most Australians, says Finder.com.au freelance technology writer Alex Kidman.
“Four years is enough notice for people with older 3G-only phones to plan and upgrade their handset,” Kidman says.
“There’s a potential catch for users of dual-SIM phones, as some of those handsets are not dual 4G capable. They won’t stop working entirely when 3G services cease, but you’ll lose secondary SIM functionality if that’s where you put your Telstra SIM card,” he says.
“It’ll be interesting to see how Telstra handles the switch off of 3G towers across the nation; while it’s given a hard date for when they’ll all be gone, it’s also feasible consumers on 3G-only devices could see a drop in access speeds due to a lower number of compatible towers in their area. Telstra says it’s going to match its existing 3G footprint with 4G coverage in the meantime, however.”