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3G switch off UK starting 2023

Published date: July 2023

Woman holding her phone in a park
Starting in June 2023, Your Co-op will be phasing out the 3G network currently used by customers, which will be completed by 2024. The 3G switch-off is being carried out by all service providers and is to make room for the newer 4G and 5G networks. 4G and 5G provide a stronger, faster and more reliable phone signal using more efficient technology on an infrastructure that's ready to support the UK.
The 3G switch-off follows the UK Government agreement with mobile networks (MNOS) that both 2G and 3G must be retired by 2033.

Advantages of 4G and 5G 

The 3G switch-off provides a great opportunity to assess the reasons why an upgrade is not only essential, but beneficial for all. 

Faster speeds 

Higher Megabits per second means you can complete downloads quicker, load webpages or social media faster, and stream music or videos on demand. 
  • 3G - 8Mbps
  • 4G - 150Mbps
  • 5G - 1Gbps

Improved Bandwidth

Bandwidth determines how much traffic a mobile network can handle before the service slows down. Each generation has improved on its predecessor. 

Users of 3G and occasionally 4G may experience lower network speeds at peak times of the day. However, 4G LTE and other upgrades to the 4G network have improved bandwidth significantly. But this is a difficult battle, as thousands of new devices are added to the network daily.

5G users don't have to worry about bandwidth, as they can stream in 4K at peak times in a populated area. 

Lower Latency

Network latency Is the time required for data to travel between two points following an action. This could be the time taken for the sounds of a phone call to reach the other person.
Low latency is one of 5Gs' most important features and can have latency as low as one millisecond. It is estimated to be 60 to 120 times faster than the average 4G latency, which is far lower than 3G. 

Still using a 3G-only SIM?

If your SIM is only compatible with 3G then it's certainly time for an upgrade to our EE-powered SIMs with a climate-positive difference. Don't be left disconnected from family and friends when 3G is gone, swap to a SIM with a host of great benefits such as:
  • Fastest 4G & 5G network through EE, with the widest and strongest coverage for your mobile. The UK's number-one mobile service.
  • All SIMs reduce your monthly CO2 footprint by 10kg, thanks to our climate impact partner Ecologi.
  • No extra fees while roaming abroad in the EU, you keep your full data allowance and stay connected with all your minutes and texts.
  • We never tie you down, our SIMs are always a monthly contract so you can swap data or walk away any time.
Find out more about our SIM-only bundles here.

Need a 5G Mobile?

We provide the most ethical & sustainable mobile on the planet, the Fairphone 4, with an industry-leading 5-year warranty.

A modular and repairable device with 4G/5G compatibility, made of recycled, Fairtrade and responsibly sourced materials. The Fairphone 4 can help you live a more sustainable life without changing your lifestyle, with a stunning 48MP dual camera, the latest Android 12 and a slick 6.3-inch HD+ display. 

On average, users keep their Fairphone for over 5 years, doubling the average life of a smartphone which collectively amounts to over 150 million devices entering landfill each year. Fairphone opposes this waste economy of electronics and builds devices' to last, and be easily and affordably repaired at home, if ever needs be. 

The longer you keep your Fairphone, the more carbon emissions, precious materials and money you save. 

Do good for you and the planet with the Fairphone 4, find out more here


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What is the 3G switch off?

The 3G switch off refers to the gradual phasing out of 3G mobile network technology across the UK. This means all mobile network operators will no longer offer 3G services and devices that rely solely on 3G will no longer be able to make calls, send/receive texts, or access mobile data. 

When is the 3G switch off happening?

The exact timeframe for the 3G switch off varies depending on the mobile network operator. However, for most providers the process is expected to be completed between 2023 and 2025.

Your Co-op Mobile will have finished phasing out 3G before the end of 2024. 

Why are they switching off 3G?

There are several reasons for the 3G switch off:
  • Newer and faster technologies: 4G and 5G networks offer significantly faster speeds and improved capacity compared to 3G. This allows mobile operators to offer their customers better experiences with data-intensive applications like streaming and video calls.
  • Efficiency: 3G is a less efficient technology in terms of energy consumption compared to newer generations. Switching off 3G allows operators to save energy and reduce their environmental impact.
  • Spectrum redeployment: The resources used for 3G can be repurposed to enhance existing 4G and 5G networks and even pave the way for the development of future technologies like 6G.

Will I be affected by the 3G switch off?

The impact of the 3G switch off depends on your mobile device and network operator.
  • If you have a 4G or 5G compatible phone: You will not be affected and can continue using your phone as usual.
  • If you have a 3G only phone: You will no longer be able to make calls, send texts, or access mobile data once 3G is switched off in your area. You will need to upgrade to a 4G or 5G compatible phone to continue using these services.

How can I check if my phone is affected?

You can check if your phone is 4G or 5G compatible by:
  • Checking your phone's manual or manufacturer's website.
  • Contacting your mobile network operator.
  • Using a phone checker tool online. 

What should I do if I have a 3G phone?

If you have a 3G phone, you have a few options:
  • Upgrade to a new 4G or 5G phone. Most mobile network operators offer upgrade deals and may even have specific offers for customers affected by the 3G switch off. Explore the 5G ready Fairphone here.
  • Contact your mobile network operator to discuss alternatives. They may offer options like switching to a SIM-only plan or a refurbished 4G phone. Discover a SIM-only plan that suits your needs with Your Co-op Mobile.

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