With the launch of 5G continuing to pick up speed, it was only a matter of time before Telstra killed off its legacy networks. Like 2G before it, Telstra's 3G network is set to be switched off to make room for the newer, faster network. Here's the official announcement.
June 2024. That's when Telstra's 18-year old 3G phone network will finally meet its maker. This means you have a little over four years to upgrade your ancient and entry-level devices to something 4G-capable or above.
In a blog post announcing the decision, Telstra explained that the removal of 3G will allow it to grow its 5G footprint and enhance the quality of data and voice calls on the latest network.
Right now, this would only benefit a tiny fraction of Australians - but as mentioned, the switch-off date isn't until 2024. By then it is expected most smartphones and other mobile devices will be 5G capable.
In the meantime, Telstra is committing to upgrading areas with 3G-only coverage in order to give regional Australians "the best possible experience" on 4G and 5G.
You can check out the full announcement from Telstra below.
Mobile network outages may no longer cripple the nation's EFTPOS terminals, leaving shoppers stranded, as Australia's telcos talk up their long-term 5G plans beyond the need for speed. Telstra and Optus' 5G rollouts are gradually extending across the country, with Vodafone to follow, delivering a speed boost while helping ease mobile congestion.
Australians won't see the full benefits of the new technology for a few years, once the telcos gain access to faster spectrum and redesign their networks to make the most of 5G.
As we grow our mobile network around Australia and upgrade it with the latest technology, we occasionally come to a point where it is necessary to say goodbye to older technology and to use the spectrum it was carried on to boost the performance of newer and more efficient technology.
In December 2016, we switched off our 2G technology to provide more spectrum for our 4G technology. Today, as part of our program to continually upgrade our network to the latest technology and expand our 4G and 5G coverage, we’re announcing the eventual switch-off of our 3G technology. This will not happen until June 2024 – more than four years away.
In May this year we launched 5G with the release of the first 5G devices in Australia. As an early adopter and pioneer of 5G, we are on the cusp of the latest mobile technology worldwide.
Telstra’s 5G technology is now available in selected sites within 10 cities around Australia, and over the next year we expect our coverage to expand to at least 35 Australian cities. Our investment to bring 5G to Australia is significant, and forms part of our around $8 billion of spend in our mobile network over the last five years (to 30 June 2019) to enhance the capacity and reach it is providing.
To help continue enhancing the network, it will eventually mean our older network technology will need to be switched off, so the spectrum that is used to carry data and voice calls over our oldest mobile network technology can be repurposed to help grow 5G.
Telstra’s 3G technology - which you might also know as NextG - was switched on in 2006, and was heralded at the time for its more reliable service, increased speeds and coverage, and what it enabled for customers and businesses on the go. It was the start of being able to send picture messages, stream video and access the internet on smartphones.
As network technology advances, we can use our network to deliver better experiences and meet the changing ways that we use mobile data.
Similarly to when we turned off our CDMA technology and re-purposed its 850MHz spectrum for 3G services, switching off 3G will let us again repurpose this same spectrum this time to 5G to allow us to continue growing and improving our latest generation 5G technology to meet your data needs in the future. The era of 5G will bring ever greater advancements in areas like mobile gaming, virtual reality experiences, HD video conferencing, driverless cars and other applications that haven’t even been dreamt up yet.
We are giving our customers more than four years’ notice to prepare for the change ahead of the June 2024 closure date.
Between now and then we’ll be upgrading and expanding our 4G coverage to a materially equivalent size and reach to our 3G footprint. Most customers will generally notice an improvement in speed when using a compatible device – in many cases a substantial one. We are working to assess our product range and all current areas with 3G only coverage in order to give you the best possible experience on 4G and 5G.
We are committed to delivering the best possible network for regional Australia. In 2011 we were the first carrier to extend 4G services into regional areas and we now reach 99.2 per cent of the Australian population. We are not going to rest on our laurels as we push forward into the era of 5G, and we are always going to strive to do the best we can for all our customers wherever they are across the country.
Mobile technology is progressing at a rapid pace. And Telstra is leading the way.