3G Shutdown: Which Smart Devices Are Likely to Be Impacted?

3G Shutdown: Which Smart Devices Are Likely to Be Impacted?

The end of the 3G network in Australia has been coming for a while, but now that telcos have physically begun to shut off coverage, it’s raised many questions amongst the Australian public. Let’s break down exactly what’s going on with the end of 3G and who is likely to be impacted.

Why is 3G shutting down in Australia?

Like all things in technology, the closing of the 3G network is basically a case of out with the old and in with the new. Now that we have the 5G network, the need for 3G is lessened, and the telcos are moving to discontinue it as they advance with the newer generation of mobile communication tech.

Many modern mobile phones are capable of connecting to multiple networks, which is why you might see the reception indicator in the corner of your phone flicker between 4G and 5G depending on your area.

When is the shutdown happening?

The shutdown of the 3G network is already in progress across Australia.

Vodafone and TPG cut off 3G as of January of this year, Telstra is scheduled for June, and Optus will complete its shutdown in September. This shutdown also impacts any mobile brands sitting under the major telcos or sharing their network, such as Belong, Dodo, Superloop and more.

Which phones will be affected?

Whether or not you’ll be impacted by the 3G shutdown depends on the handset model you’re using. As it’s older technology, the 3G network is often slower and used only for making SOS calls, which is why the shutdown has raised concerns for many Aussies, particularly those in remote areas.

As Nine reported, some customers have certain 4G handsets (usually bought overseas) that are configured to only use the 3G network to make calls to emergency services, despite using 4G for most other operations. It’s estimated there are 740,000 devices in Australia that will be impacted by this change.

Telcos have been reaching out to customers with potentially impacted devices to encourage them to upgrade, so keep an eye out for comms from your provider if you think your device may be affected. The government has also called on the telco industry to better identify and notify impacted customers.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association published a fact sheet about the 3G closure, which lists the top devices most likely to be affected by the network shutdown (note this is not an exhaustive list, and customers should confirm with their provider whether their device will be impacted). These are:

  • Alcatel 2038
  • Alcatel OneTouch 2045
  • Apple iPhone 5
  • Apple iPhone 5C
  • Apple iPhone 5S
  • Aspera A42
  • Doro 6521
  • Doro PhoneEasy 623 OPTUS
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Huawei E5251s-2
  • Huawei E5331
  • Huawei Y6 Prime
  • Nokia 301
  • Oppo A57
  • Oppo F1s
  • Oppo F5 Youth
  • Optus X Smart
  • Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • ZTE Blade A0605
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Retina
  • iPad mini Retina
  • iPad mini
  • iPad mini 3

Another thing customers can do is check for VoLTE (voice over long term evolution) in their phone’s settings. A VoLTE enabled device allows users to make calls over the 4G network (where previously the device may have dropped to the 3G network to avoid congestion). Most modern phones are VoLTE capable out of the box, but it’s worth checking to see if your device is compatible or if access may be switched off in a hidden menu.

Telstra advises that those with a 5G iPhone will have VoLTE automatically enabled, but for those on an older Apple model, you should update to the latest iOS software and carrier build. From there, you can also go to Settings > Mobile > Mobile Data Options >Enable 4G > Voice & Data and then check that VoLTE is enabled.

The process is similar for Android users who can visit Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Network/Mobile Data > Network Mode > Select LTE or 5G and enable VoLTE calling. Note the wording of these steps may differ depending on the device.

Beyond phones, it’s also worth noting that some tablets, smart watches, home security systems, and even medical devices using 3G services may also be impacted by this change. If you’re unsure about your devices, be sure to contact the manufacturer or your telco.

Lead Image Credit: iStock

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