Tech

2033 is doomsday for 2G and 3G in the UK

The UK government has announced measures to phase out 2G and 3G networks by 2033 ahead of Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries’ meeting with US Secretary for Commerce Gina Raimondo.

The government also spoke of its “ambition” for 35 per cent of the UK’s mobile network traffic to be carried over open and interoperable Radio Access Network (RAN) architectures by 2030.

The former I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! contestant announced the plans as part of a wider ambition to bring in new telecoms suppliers to roll out 5G now that Huawei is a dirty word in Downing Street.

The switch-off date has been agreed with mobile network operators Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media, O2, and Three. Some have already announced plans to kill off the veteran service ahead of time; BT has already said it will phase out 3G in the UK by 2023 for EE, Plusnet, and BT Mobile users. 2G is also for the chop, although a bit later, so you’ve got a while yet before that that indestructible Nokia 3310 has to retire.

The gaff-prone Dorries, notable for keeping creepy-crawlies company (during her failed attempt to win food for campmates during the ITV reality-series), both remarked on the undoubted delight of 5G as well as noting “Today we are announcing a further £50 million to put the UK at the forefront of mobile connectivity and to make sure our telecoms networks are safe and secure now and in the future.”

Killing off 2G and 3G will also free up spectrum and lower barriers of entry to the UK market since suppliers must, as it stands, offer 2G or 3G services. Hamish MacLeod, director of Mobile UK, said: “Switching off 2G and 3G will enable operators to transition fully to more energy efficient and high capacity networks to the benefit of customers. We are also working with government and wider industry to support the maturity of new RAN solutions to open up further opportunities for innovation and new services in the future.”

Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight, told The Register: “The move provides long term clarity to all stakeholders… Not everyone has access to or can afford the latest piece of technology. There’s still a digital divide in the UK with many parts not having access to 4G and 5G. In order for this vision to be realised it is paramount for 4G and 5G to be as pervasive as 2G services are today.

“New 5G and future networks while costly to build, provide significant economic benefits. Therefore, it makes sense to move users onto these networks and shut off legacy networks. Furthermore it frees up valuable spectrum to be refarmed for future services.” ®


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