Important news about our 3G network

May 11, 2022

Girl drinking coffee using her phone

Times are changing. Way back in 2003, we were proud to launch the UK’s first 3G network, kickstarting a mobile revolution. Now we’re 2 decades on, and feeling pretty nostalgic about it.

In 2003, Concorde took its final flight, Ronaldo made his Manchester United debut, Peep Show came to our TV screens, and 50 Cent ruled the charts. People even got excited about the Nokia 3200.

So much has changed. Smartphones were non-existent and data was hardly ‘a thing’. Now our network carries nearly a third of all mobile traffic in the UK.

In order to continue offering a reliable service to all our customers we need to upgrade parts of our network. This means that by the end of 2024, we’ll be switching 3G off.

Don’t worry, nothing’s going to happen anytime soon. And by the time we do switch off our 3G technology, we’ll have upgraded all our sites to 4G.  Plus, we’ll continue to roll out our award-winning 5G network at the same time.

So, why are we doing this?

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and the standards we’ve set over the years, but we need to look to the future.

The government has requested that all public 2G and 3G networks are switched off by 2033 at the latest, to create new and exciting possibilities. So we’re moving fast and staying one step ahead.

The demand for data is huge these days with the average customer currently using a whopping 19GB per month. This figure is increasing by 20% every year as more and more devices and objects become ‘connected’. So, we need to invest in newer, more efficient technologies that give our customers all the benefits of being on one of the UK’s biggest networks.

By switching off our 3G network, we can free up resources and focus on improving our 4G and 5G services for all customers.

How does this affect your current 3G service?

3G can’t carry as much data as 4G or 5G, so at the moment it’s struggling and the experience you’ll be having on 3G won’t be as good as it should. Once the whole country is covered by 4G or 5G, you’ll start to enjoy an improved mobile experience.

All our customers will eventually be in either a 4G or 5G area, so the transition will be totally seamless. You’ll literally get a better service overnight with faster download speeds, better quality streaming and a generally smoother experience.

Since 2018 we haven’t sold any 3G only devices and all our 4G devices have been VoLTE capable (which means ‘voice over LTE’ 4G network) and ready for the future. However, if you’ve got an older 3G-only or non-VoLTE device, as the switch off day approaches, we’ll help you stay connected. It’ll also be worth checking our Device Compatibility tool.

The future

In the meantime, there’s plenty to get excited about. You’re already on the UK’s Fastest 5G Network* – so if you fancy trying it out, check if 5G is in your area now.

Then, all you need is a 5G Ready phone to be able to experience super-fast streaming, browsing, gaming, and playing.

*Based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for Q3-Q4 2021. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission. Visit to find out more. See