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Vodafone to switch off UK’s 3G network in 2023

Vodafone has announced that it will shut down the UK’s 3G network entirely by the end of 2023.

The UK mobile network has issued a press release outlining its plans to bolster 4G and 5G coverage by repurposing the existing 3G spectrum.

It will commence “retiring its 3G network” in 2023, which will involve a gradual phasing out process. According to Vodafone, less than 4% of the data on its network utilises 3G.

Anyone with a modern smartphone will be unaffected by this news, but it does raise questions about the many older Brits out there who still use 3G feature phones. To that end, the company has kicked off a year-long communications campaign starting today.

“Our goal is for everyone to stay connected, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that’s the case,” said Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam. “During the campaign, we’ll be asking customers not just to make sure that their own phone supports 4G and 4G Calling, but also to check in on friends and family.”

In other words, Vodafone will be prompting feature phone users to upgrade over the next year or two. It’s also encouraging those “tech-savvy” customers who already have compatible smartphones to help their feature phone-owning relatives make the switch.

It’s also partnering with The Good Things Foundation and similar initiatives to reach out to vulnerable consumers.

Besides the speed and reliability improvements that will come about by the switch to a purely 4G and 5G network, Vodafone is keen to point out the environmental benefits. Old 3G network technology is around 10 times less efficient than the latest 5G equivalent, which doesn’t chime with Vodafone’s pledge to hit Net Zero by 2027.

Vodafone isn’t the first network to make such a pledge. Back in July of 2021, EE revealed that it would be switching its own 3G network off by 2023.

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