2G / 3G Network Shutdown Status and Challenges

Mobile Network operators shutting down 3G and in some cases, 2G has been a long time coming. Operators across the world have either already shut down their 2G and 3G or planning to do so in the near future. Up until now, we had several new technologies co-existing with legacy technologies, but it is becoming more complex for Carriers to manage and manufacturers to support.


In Europe, 3G is expected to be switched off before 2G. Around 19 operators are planning to switch off their 3G Network by 2025 and around eight operators are planning to switch off their 2G network by 2025. June 2021 brought the shutdown of 3G in two operators in Germany Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom. Telefonica is also expected to shut down 3G by the end of 2021. In other countries Telia will look to close 3G in all their countries between 2022 and 2025 and EE will be the first UK network that has announced the shutdown of 3G.


For Asia, 2G in countries like Japan was phased out a long time ago. The trend will continue with other countries and operators. There are around 29 operators who are looking to shut down 2G by 2025 and 16 shutting down 3G by 2025. Notably, Tawain closed both 2G and 3G almost 3 years ago.


The Americas especially the US is shutting down 2G networks on an accelerated scale. 3G Network will be shut down by all main operators by 2022. Around 15 operators in 7 countries have announced the closure of 2G by the end of 2025.


For Oceania, 2G is almost phased out. In Australia all 3 operators have shut down their 2G by the end of 2018 and 3G is on the way with Telstra the only one announcing a timeline for the end of 2024.


Africa is the only region where no 2G or 3G shutdowns have been announced so far but it will be part of future planning once newer technologies penetrate more.




What 2G/ 3G shutdowns will mean for end-users?


This will force/encourage people to upgrade their phones to 4G. Many Operators seem to suggest that 2G in Europe will be around until 2030 and this is mainly due to implications of the M2M and IoT applications. In particular, the EU mandated eCall, where long term agreements are in place, will need to be supported by the 2G technology before the work towards migration to IMS voice is fully completed.


There are several drivers behind this change.

  1. Reuse of frequencies for new technology deployments like 4G and 5G. Most 2G use 850, 900, 1,800 or 1,900 MHz frequency bands. The sub-1 GHz bands, are very valuable due to their propagation characteristics, especially delivering greater coverage and in-building penetration.

  2. Reduce costs and effort in maintaining legacy radio networks

  3. Lower the energy consumption of the network. Vodafone New Zealand has announced back in 2019 that they are expecting around 10% savings in power consumption from migrating away from 2G and 3G technologies.

  4. Simplify the network operation


This 2G and 3G network closure change are bringing several challenges to device manufacturers, Carriers/Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators.


What will this mean for Smartphone Manufacturers?


IMS (VoLTE & VoWiFi) will need to now be enabled by default on all devices. This will add additional testing requirements to ensure smooth interoperability on all networks to enable end-users to benefit from the latest technology and not rely on legacy technology. Testing on Roaming conditions should also be taken into account to ensure end-users Quality of Experience when using data or voice services.





What will this mean for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)?

MNOs will significantly reduce some of the operational costs by the 2G/3G shutdown, but they will need to ensure they have substantial capacity and coverage for new technology like VoLTE. It will cause a major impact on the Quality of Experience and brand loyalty if end users cannot use VoLTE in areas where there is no longer 3G coverage and have to rely on 2G voice. This will have a very negative impact on the user experience.


To ensure a smooth transition Quality of Service should be maintained during and after the transition. MNOs will need to enhance their IMS voice and ensure the service is available for all their customers under post-paid and prepaid in-home network or roaming conditions.



What will this mean for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)?


MVNOs are expected to be majorly affected by legacy networks shut down. Dish US MVNO highlighted in early March 2021 that the T-Mobile US legacy CDMA network shutdown will cause significant disruption and they will need to accelerate efforts and invest more heavily for an earlier than expected upgrade.


MVNOs across the world will need to ensure upgrades and IMS support (VoLTE/VoWiFi) including on home and roaming conditions. For some, the new SIMS will be required as well as available devices that support IMS functionality.




Status of European Network 2G/3G ShutdownsC

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

Albania

Vodafone

By end 2025

By end 2021

Austria

A1

By end 2025

Austria

Telekom

By end 2025

Bulgaria

A1

By end 2025

Croatia

T-Mobile

By end 2022

Czech Republic

Vodafone

By end 2025

Q1 2021

Czech Republic

O2

By end 2025

Q4 2021

Czech Republic

T-Mobile

By end 2025

Q4 2021

Denmark

Telenor

By end 2025

By end 2022

Denmark

Hi3G

No Service

By end 2025

Denmark

Telia

By the end 2025

Started 2021/ By end 2025

Denmark

TDC

By end 2022

Estonia

Telia

By end 2025

By end 2023

Finland

DNA

By end 2025

By end 2023

Finland

Elisa

By end 2023

Finland

Telia

By end 2025

By end 2024

France

SFR

By end 2030

France

Orange

By end 2025

By end 2028

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

Germany

Vodafone

By end 2025

Q2 2021

Germany

Telefonica

By end 2022

Germany

Cosmote

By end 2021

Germany

Deutsche Telekom

Closed Jun 2021

Greece

Wind

By end 2022

Greece

Vodafone

By end 2025

By end 2022

Hungary

T-Mobile

Hungary

Vodafone

By end 2025

Ireland

Vodafone

By end 2025

By end 2023

Ireland

Three

By end 2023

Italy

TIM

By end 2022

Italy

Vodafone

By end 2025

Q2 2021

Latvia

Telia

By end 2022

Lithuania

Telia

By end 2025

By end 2022

Lithuania

Bite

By end 2028

By end 2025

Luxembourg

Post

Q3 2022

Malta

EPIC

By end 2025

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

​Netherlands

​KPN

Closed Mar 2022

Netherlands

Vodafone

By end 2025

Closed Feb 2020

Norway

Telenor

By end 2025

By end 2021

Norway

Telia

By end 2025

Closed Dec 2021

Poland

T-Mobile

By end 2025

By end 2023

​Portugal

Vodafone

By end 2025

By end 2023

​Romania

Vodafone

By end 2025

​Russia

Tele2

By end 2025

​Slovakia

Telekom

By end 2021

​Spain

Telefonica

By end 2025

​Spain

Vodafone

By end 2025

​​Sweden

Tele2

By end 2025

By end 2023

​Sweden

Telia

By end 2025

By end 2023

​Sweden

Telenor

By end 2025

By end 2025

Switzerland

Sunrise

By end 2021

By end 2024

​Switzerland

Swisscom

Closed 2021

By end 2025

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

United Kingdom

EE

By end 2025

By end 2022

United Kingdom

Vodafone

By end 2025

By end 2023

United Kingdom

3

​By end 2024

United Kingdom

O2

By end 2033

By end 2033

United Kingdom

BT

By end 2024

By end 2023


Status of US Network 2G/3G Shutdowns

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

US

AT&T

Closed in 2017

22/02/2022

US

Sprint

Closed 2021

By 31st March 2022

US

T-Mobile

Closed 2020

By 1st of July 2022

US

Verizon

Closed 2020

By end 2022


Status of Oceania Network 2G/3G Shutdowns

Country

Network Operator

2G

3G

Australia

Telstra

Closed 2017

By end 2024

Australia

Optus

Closed 2017

By end 2023

​Australia

Vodafone

Closed 2018

New Zealand

Vodafone

By end 2025

Please note that data has been collected during June 2022 from various sources and is subject to change based on each Mobile Network Operator's schedule and timelines.

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How can SmartViser Help?


OPTION 1 - Test Automation


Empower your team with the Test Automation Solution viSer to ensure superior Quality of Service QoS and Quality of Experience QoE.


Test all key functions like VoLTE, VoWiFi, Data throughput, Audio MOS, Battery performance etc in live network or roaming conditions:



OPTION 2 - Test Services


Send us your devices in one or multiple locations across Europe. You no longer need to arrange and schedule travel for your staff. We can propose Network Test interoperability and test VoLTE/VoWiFi across any network in Europe.


Our team of expert Test Engineers will provide logs to help the speedy resolution of issues and the test automation viSer will ensure greater testing scope in shorter times.



 
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