Three joins 3G switch-off
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Three UK store logo Three UK is looking to expand its 5G availability (credit: Three UK)

Leading mobile network operator Three UK has announced plans to switch off its 3G mobile network services by the end of 2024.

Having launched in 2003, Three UK was the UK’s first 3G-only operator and will join fellow MNOs Vodafone and EE in setting the end of 2024 as the date it will no longer have 3G availability. The shutdown will mean that some customers will have to upgrade their devices before 2024 in order to transition smoothly to 4G and 5G services as Three has no 2G network to fall back to after its 3G network goes dark.

Vodafone and EE will continue to offer 2G services in addition to 4G and 5G operations as 2G connectivity is still widely used by low-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices and can act as a fallback option for voice-only communication.

According to Three, 5G usage is now more popular than 3G in the UK and the MNO estimates that by the end of the year 5G will account for 35% of all of its mobile network usage.

Three’s shutting down of 3G mobile services will free up the spectrum to be refarmed to allow for improvement of 4G services and expansion of 5G availabilty.

David Hennessy, chief technology officer at Three said: “3G kick-started the mobile revolution – and launched Three into the UK 20 years ago – but the future is undoubtedly 5G. As we continue to roll out our ultrafast connectivity, by not only upgrading our existing 4G sites but building new 5G sites, we’ll be in a position to switch off our use of 3G across our network by the end of 2024.”

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