Sponsored By

More than half of Brits are unaware of ongoing 3G-sunset, according to study

A new study by UK-based price comparison site Uswitch reveals 2.7 million brits still unsure if their device is 4G/5G ready while over half are unaware of ongoing 3G-sunset.

Armita Satari

January 4, 2024

2 Min Read
UK map covered by union jack

A new study conducted by UK-based price comparison site Uswitch has revealed that as 3G networks around the country are being switched off more than half of Brits (52%) report having seen no communication at all, while over four in ten (43%) are not even aware this is happening.

Vodafone and EE are considered the two network providers to be leading the network sunset. The former has already switched off several locations across the country and the final phase of its switch-off is planned to conclude in February 2024. EE is planning to begin the switch off in January 2024 while Three is to follow suit by the end of the ear and Virgin Media O2 finally in 2025.

This move is set to help free up spectrum for the use of 4G and 5G services. “The 3G switch off will ultimately free up the ‘network spectrum’ for 4G and 5G - an important way to ensure our networks can cope with increasing demand as our digital lives continue to grow.” said Ernest Doku, a telecoms expert at Uswitch.

But the nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults in the UK shows that one in eight (13%) mobile users are still unsure if their phone is 4G or 5G ready. Meanwhile another 5% have said they still use a 3G handset.

These equate to 2.7 million Brits who could potentially be without access to mobile data if they are not made aware of the switch off and how to upgrade their device or follow the steps advised by their provider.

While most consumers use a 4G or 5G enabled mobile device and can rest assured that their service will continue as normal, the 3G switch-off will mainly impact the internet for customers using older mobile devices and services.

Here, elderly mobile users are more likely to be affected. Nearly a quarter of those aged 75 or over are among those unsure about their device compatibility with 4G and 5G services and another 7% state they still use 3G handsets.

Nonetheless, calls and texts will still be available to all mobile devices.

The findings also suggest that operators are likely to face some resistance from the public. About one in five respondents (19%) whose phones are not or may not be 4G/5G ready say they would not be willing to upgrade their handset. More interestingly, 21% state they would simply opt to not use the internet on their phone.

While all four mobile network operators are taking the necessary steps, including setting up special helplines, “it’s also worth checking in with any friends and family members who might have older devices. It might be time for an upgrade - and there’s plenty of support available for those getting set up with a new handset.” says Doku.

“Ultimately, these changes will help us to move towards a faster and more reliable service, but in the meantime, it’s important to make sure no one is left behind.”

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like