Vodafone completes 3G switch-off

Vodafone UK has announced that it has completed the switch off its UK legacy 3G network.

The company finished the work this week, which allows Vodafone to repurpose the last remaining 3G radio frequencies to strengthen 4G and 5G services, enabling more customers to access faster data services and clearer voice calls.

The activity follows an ongoing customer awareness campaign which started in January 2022. This included Vodafone notifying its customers who could have been affected by the switch off, offering information and advice such as how to carry out software upgrades where required and how to activate services such as 4G Calling. The campaign also included working with charities and other third-party groups to reach the most vulnerable customers ahead of switch off in their area.

It follows BT's announcement this week that it had switched off its final 3G site in Belfast.

The 3G switch off is part of a wider network modernisation programme which includes the rollout of faster 5G and 4G services to more locations across the UK. Vodafone has also extended its 4G coverage further through the Shared Rural Network programme, a £1 billion joint initiative between government and the UK’s four MNOs.

It uses mast sharing on existing sites in rural areas, while also building new shared masts to connect areas that have no coverage. More than 155 rural locations across the UK are now receiving more reliable 4G as part of Vodafone’s ongoing commitment to the programme.

Vodafone’s UK network director, Andrea Dona, said, "The 3G legacy switch off has been a massive programme and I’d like to thank my team for their hard work to make this a success. With switch off complete, we can start to redeploy the remaining spectrum which will ultimately lead to stronger and faster 4G and 5G across the UK. All on top of our existing 4G and 5G network improvement programmes. Good news for our customers, businesses and the wider UK economy."

The retirement of Vodafone’s 3G network is also a key part of Vodafone's strategy to reach net zero by 2027, as modern 5G networks are 10 times more energy efficient than the 3G network.

As part of its proposed merger with Three UK, Vodafone UK has pledged to invest £11 billion over the next 10 years and deliver 5G Standalone to 99 per cent of the UK population by 2034.


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