A recent study conducted by Uswitch has revealed that 52% of UK citizens are unaware that 3G services are being switched-off. Furthermore, more than 2.7 million people are uncertain whether their mobile handset is 5G-ready. Vodafone UK has followed EE’s lead and has officially shut down its 3G mobile network across the country. The transition will enable related radio frequencies to be repurposed to support faster 4G and 5G services.

Although most customers use a 4G or 5G-enabled mobile device, the 3G switch-off will mainly affect those using older mobile devices and services. However, consumers will not experience a reduction in coverage, as Ofcom has confirmed that EE, Three UK, and Vodafone have committed to providing an equivalent level of coverage after the 3G switch-off, and Virgin Media O2 is expected to follow suit. Mobile operators are required to inform customers when the service being purchased will no longer work due to the switch-off, and that the customer will need a 4G-capable handset after that date. Customers will receive three to six months’ notice of the need to upgrade their device, and operators will provide additional support to vulnerable individuals, potentially including discounts on replacement handsets. Operators are also identifying other devices, such as telecare alarms and payment terminals, that will be affected by switch-offs, and raising awareness with suppliers and consumers.

Each mobile provider is setting its own timetable for its 3G network switch-off. These timings might change, and customers are advised to check their mobile provider’s website for the latest update. Three expects to switch off by the end of 2024, while O2 is planning to switch off in 2025.

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