Vodafone is gradually phasing out its 3G coverage in the UK, replacing it with strengthened 4G and 5G services. The switch off allows 3G radio frequencies to be used for faster, more efficient 4G and 5G services.
2G will remain for calls and texts with services such as Voice over 4G and WiFi Calling also available.
Vodafone is providing extra support to vulnerable customers through communications campaigns and its new Digital Skills Helpline.
Following successful switch-off pilots across Plymouth and Basingstoke in February 2023, Vodafone has announced its plans to start switching off the remainder of its UK 3G network from June 2023.
The decision to switch-off 3G – which is in line with all UK mobile network operators – will see 3G coverage gradually phased out and replaced by strengthened 4G and 5G services, so customers across more parts of the UK can access more reliable connectivity. Vodafone’s 2G network, which currently covers over 99% of the UK population, will remain in place for calls and texts.
The retirement of Vodafone’s 3G network is also an important part of the strategy to reach Net Zero for its UK operation by 2027, with modern 5G networks being much more energy efficient. Sending a terabyte of data across the 5G network uses just 7% of the energy used to send the same amount of data across the 3G network.
3G switch-off is coming: Here’s what you need to do
In 2023 Vodafone is retiring 3G in the UK, so it’s time to check your phone – and to check-in on your relatives and neighbours – to see if and how you’ll be affected by the switch-off.
The national shutdown will happen in phases throughout the remainder of 2023, starting in June with Hull, Oxford and Greater London before progressing across the South. The remainder of the UK will follow later in the year.
Vodafone has information available to make sure that consumers are aware of 3G switch off and have the information they need to prepare, as well as helping friends, family members and loved ones to do the same.
This includes instructions on how to check if a mobile device is 4G-capable and how to carry out software upgrades where required. It also contains further information on services such as 4G Calling, which enables customers to make and receive calls over the 4G network.
The Digital Skills Helpline
Vodafone has also partnered with charities, and other third parties, to support vulnerable customers and those needing extra support. This includes working with We Are Digital, a social impact organisation, to set up the Digital Skills Helpline, supported by specially trained advisors who can help callers who may need support in setting up a phone or tablet as well as building confidence when using the internet.
The Digital Skills Helpline – on 0800 987 4110 – is free to call from any UK mobile or landline. It is open to everyone, whether they are a Vodafone customer or not.
Vodafone’s UK Chief Network Officer, Andrea Dona, said: “Our focus is to continue building the UK’s most reliable mobile network. To continue to do this, we need to ensure our technologies are fit for purpose.
“3G use has already dropped significantly, as most of Vodafone’s customers now use the 4G network. Currently less than 4% of data is used on our 3G network, in comparison to more than 30% in 2016.
“We’re also strengthening and improving our 4G and 5G coverage and this can only mean good news for our customers, as well as the wider UK economy.
At the same time, we’ve been working hard to make sure our customers are fully aware and have the information and tools they need to support themselves, as well as friends and family, through the programme.
“The Digital Skills Helpline is a great asset, bringing customers the skills they may need to make the most of their device. On this solid bedrock, now is the time to say goodbye to 3G and focus on the current benefits and future possibilities of our 4G and 5G networks.”
Customers can learn more about the Vodafone 3G switch off programme online or by visiting their local Vodafone store.