Australian 3G Network Shutdown: How Will It Affect Your Phone?

Jan 5, 2024 Reading time : 5 min

Times are changing, and technology is advancing. We’re all experiencing new devices and services with this incredible technological rise. If you’re a resident of Australia, you’ve probably heard about the 3G shutdown that’s affecting countries all over the world. While some 3G coverage is still available, the rest is expected to be shut down by the end of 2024. If you’re still wondering if your phone will be affected by this shutdown or if you need help with what to do if your phone’s service shuts down, keep reading to learn about the 3G Shutdown in Australia and how it affects you. 

Why are 3G Networks Being Shut Down?

Networks for mobile phones use radio frequencies, known as spectrums, to work. Unfortunately, the spectrum is finite, so companies must figure out how to operate several networks simultaneously. The spectrum operates at different frequencies in grouped bands. For example, the spectrum can operate at a high or low frequency, so one grouped band will be responsible for the high frequencies, and the other group will be for the low frequencies. It’s important to remember that the higher the frequency is, the faster the connection, but the coverage area is smaller. 

Companies like Telcos purchase lots of spectrum, and then the lots are used to build actual networks. Because the bands can only contain so many networks, companies are choosing to get rid of their 3G coverage to use the space for 4G or 5G, which is faster and more efficient.

How Will the Shut Down Affect Your Phone?

According to the popular PCMag, those who use older 3G phones will have to get new phones because their old ones will no longer work once the 3G networks are shut down. The 3G shutdown will also affect Kindle eBook readers and smartwatches, which will only run off Wi-Fi once the changes have taken effect. 

Because the 3G networks are being shut down, anyone with a 3G phone will have to upgrade their phone once the final phases take place. If you need help determining if you have a 3G phone and you’ll have to upgrade, switch off the Wi-Fi and look at the status bar at the top of your phone screen. If you see “4G LTE” or “5G”, you don’t have a 3G phone. On the other hand, if you don’t see those phrases, you have a 3G phone and need to upgrade your phone to one that is compatible with 4G or 5G as soon as possible. 

If you believe your phone will phase out because of the shutdown, but you’re not entirely sure, contact your service provider to see if your phone will be affected. If they say yes, ask what kind of promotions they have for a new phone and if you are eligible for a discount because of the 3G shutdown.

Can You Upgrade Your Existing Phone?

Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade your existing 3G phone. If you have an incompatible phone, there’s no easy fix to add 4G to your existing phone. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable phones available with 4G service. Contact your current provider and speak to them about your options. If they can’t provide you with what they’re looking for, you should switch providers. 

When Will the Shut Down Take Place?

Several 3G networks owned by Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone have already been shut down. We will look at each company to discuss when they plan to complete the Australian 3G Network Shutdown

Telstra 3G Shutdown 

Beginning on Mar 25, 2019, Telstra began shutting down the 3G connectivity on its 2100MHz spectrum, but they will continue 3G services on its 850MHz spectrum until June 2024. If you currently have a working 3G phone, consider upgrading before the June shutdown date. 

Vodafone 3G Shutdown

In 2019, Vodafone phased out the connectivity of its 3G service on its 2100MHz spectrum. If you still have a working 3G phone, then your phone is compatible with the 3G services on Vodafone’s 900MHz spectrum. While they don’t have a firm date for the final stage of the 3G shutdown, they have stated that they expect to be completely shut down by the middle of 2024.

Optus 3G Shutdown

Optus has completely shut down its 3G services on the 2100MHz spectrum. As of January 2023, Optus had yet to determine a definitive timeline for when to continue with the shutdown’s final phases. 

It goes without saying that change can be a bit frustrating at times. Luckily, the 3G shutdown is taking place in stages, not all at once. If you’re looking for a new phone because your current one will be phased out, take these helpful tips with you to speak to a helpful customer service specialist about a new one for your needs. Don’t wait until there are no other options; Find your new phone today!

Sejal Mehra
Posted by
Sejal Mehra

Technology & Internet Expert