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3G network shutdown announced

Between December 2023 and September 2024, Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone will close their 3G networks, which could impact those with older tech

Major telecommunication operators have announced that they will be shutting down the 3G mobile network from the end of this year.

The 3G network facilitates mobile communication and internet access via phone towers. However, this has now been superseded by the 4G and 5G networks.

Austroads, which represents transport agencies across Australia and New Zealand says that industry needs to be aware that technology using 3G to communicate will be impacted by this shutdown, with operators urged to start their transition to 4G and 5G immediately.

As 5G becomes more accessible, and telecommunication companies focus on rolling out 5G capability across Australia, many operators have already stopped 3G coverage.

Known as reallocating or re-farming, this is when a specific mobile radio frequency (or spectrum) band is repurposed from one technology to another. Once the 3G spectrum band has been reallocated, it will no longer be available to use.

Most modern phones have both 3G and 4G capability. This means your phone will continue to work on the 4G band as before.

However, users of a 3G-only device (or 4G device without VoLTE capability) are urged to consider upgrading their systems.

Services that may be affected include:

  • telematics and vehicle/asset tracking devices installed in heavy and light vehicles, as well as general assets such as trailers, generators, etc.
  • traffic management signs used in school zones, intersections and freeways
  • weather systems and stations
  • alarms/building entry
  • devices that incorporate gateway or mesh backhaul
  • Personal Emergency Response (PER) systems
  • phones and tablets.

Cut-off deadlines are as follows:

  • Vodafone – 15 December 2023
  • Telstra – 30 June 2024
  • Optus – 24 September 2024

Austroads and Transport Certification Australia have provided information on the impacts of the shutdown and what local government and industries need to do to prepare for the transition.

To learn more about the shutdown, visit the Austroads website, or register for the free webinar taking place on Monday 4 September 2023.

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