3G switch-off – Helpful transition guide for businesses in the UK
In recent years, major mobile networks in the UK have announced the impending shutdown of their 3G capabilities, marking a significant shift in the mobile connectivity landscape. Key players like EE, Vodafone, Three, and O2 have outlined their plans for the 3G phase-out, with varying timelines for the transition. The move is driven by the evolution of technology, as 3G is superseded by the more widely available 4G and the newer, faster 5G systems. While the use of 3G has declined, there are still millions relying on it. For businesses, ensuring a smooth transition is paramount. In this article, we guide you through the necessary steps to be well-prepared for the 3G sunset.
Latest news and updates
As you’ve already heard, the UK’s largest mobile network’s have announced in recent years that they will be shutting down their 3G network capabilities, preventing 3G phones from accessing mobile data, and the internet as whole. Here’s some key dates to keep a mind of (as of November 2023):
- EE: will begin its 3G switch from January 2024, with an expectation of a full phase out by March 2024.
- Vodafone: Already shut down 3G capabilities in parts around the UK, with their final phase taking place in January 2024.
- Three: Aim to fully switch off 3G by the end of 2024.
- O2: expected switch off date in 2025, with more information TBA.
To learn more about other providers, like Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), please visit Ofcom’s official help guide here!
Why are they shutting 3G down?
Simply put, 3G has been superseded by the more widely available 4G system, and the newer, faster, more modern 5G. As networks continue to improve their infrastructure, the eventual discontinuation of older systems will naturally come into play, and that certainly is the case with 3G. Less and less of it has been used since its arrival in 2003, however that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those that continue it use it, with a report of 2 to 3 million people still using 3G handsets. Read further as we guide you through what you as a business need to make sure there’s a smooth transition for your team!
Assess your infrastructure
First things first, it’s time to check your phones. Check “connections”, “mobile networks” or “mobile data” in your phone settings. There should be a prompt that allows you to see what mobile data options are available. Don’t see 4G or 5G? That means you’ve got a 3G-only phone! Mobile networks will send you a notification of those who have 3G only contracted handsets, but it’s best to be sure and get ahead of the timetable in taking early precautions to ensure that you possibly upgrade your fleet as soon as possible. If you’ve checked that your fleet is entirely 4G/5G compatible, there’s nothing much you can do but we’ve still got advice for the future (more on that later in this article!). If upgrading is likely, we’ve got an article that should read about sourcing a new mobile contract! Procuring new handsets won’t be easy, so it’s important to consider other variables like security enforcement, device management and signal coverage in your intended operating area!
Speak to a mobile phone and network supplier
Your fleet of phones determines the level of complexity in your migration process, whether it’s a few, a dozen, or hundreds, there’s still people who are here to help make sure that you make the right decisions, so talk to your supplier to understand their plans for your transition. Take advantage of comprehensive services like contract proposals & setup, service features like Mobile Device Management, and support packages to ensure that you’re not left alone in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
- Mobile Device Management: MDM solutions efficiently handle the deployment and management of mobile devices in the upgraded network. This can enhance security and streamline device configurations.
- Contract Setup: Review and update contracts with mobile service providers to align with your new technological landscape. Ensure that your agreements reflect the services needed for a seamless transition.
- Support: Keep a good eye on reviews or case studies on how they’ve handled businesses in the past if you’re choosing to change business telecommunications provider.
Upgrade your old hardware
Once you’ve received consultation, it’s important that you consider the financial implications of what and how many new handsets you need. There are so many to choose from, so it’s vital to make sure you have a set list of phones you desire, whether that’s entry-level or high-end that fits a specific purpose in your company! Develop a budget that covers the costs of new devices, and any additional expenses related to the transition.
Before full implementation, rigorously test the new hardware for signal issues and network capabilities. Check reviews or address any issues that arise, like potential loss of signal, internet speed, and overall reception to make sure you’ve chosen wisely.
Then, build a roadmap as to how long or short your transition period is, including an action plan that details what, when and where upgrades are happening!
Once that’s done, enjoy your new devices and no longer worry about 3G!
What if I don’t need to upgrade?
Easy, there’s no reason to be concerned; 4G isn’t being phased out in this decade. You can be rest assured that your operations will be normal, but if your business partners or end-users are facing the probability of upgrading, always be mindful that there might just be disruptions elsewhere!
Still, it’s good to consult with industry experts to assess whether your current infrastructure is sustainable. Gain insights into future trends and technological advancements that may impact your business.
As the UK's mobile networks embark on the closure of their 3G services, businesses face both challenges and opportunities in adapting to the changing connectivity landscape. Whether your fleet requires an upgrade or not, staying informed and proactive is key to navigating this transition seamlessly. Assessing your infrastructure, engaging with mobile service providers, and upgrading hardware are crucial steps in ensuring a smooth migration. For those not needing an immediate upgrade, consulting with industry experts to future-proof your infrastructure remains a prudent strategy. The 3G sunset marks a shift towards more advanced technologies, and by taking proactive measures, your business can embrace this evolution with confidence and efficiency.
Revolve Communications is an independent mobile network partner that revolves around your business needs. Gain secure, scalable, and intelligent mobile communications services that enhance your goals.