Vodafone to switch off 2G network next year

2G spectrum to be refarmed to pave way for more data traffic

30 September 2016 – Vodafone today announced it plans to decommission its legacy 2G Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network on 30 September 2017.

Vodafone first launched its 2G service in 1993.  Fast forward to 2016 and Vodafone’s 4G network today carries close to 80 per cent of the company’s total data traffic. Its 2G service now carries less than one percent of the company’s data traffic, and around two percent of its voice traffic.

Vodafone’s acting Chief Technology Officer Kevin Millroy said the company is starting a 12-month campaign to proactively move remaining customers off its legacy 2G network.

“We want to be totally upfront and transparent with our customers by giving them advance notice of the closure of our 2G network late next year,” Mr Millroy said.

“We will work closely with our 2G customers to ensure this transition is as simple as possible.”

While Vodafone will work with customers who have to upgrade their phones to find a solution, Mr Millroy said a basic new 3G phone can cost less than $30.

“Today Vodafone has a wide range of smartphones starting as little as $99 for a 4G smartphone or $29 for a 3G phone . By taking a step up to a new 4G or 3G phone, customers can enjoy better coverage and call quality, and can also take advantage of capabilities such as video calling, mobile email and social media on some devices,” Mr Millroy said.

Vodafone confirmed that more than 600,000 customers have already hung up on their 2G devices since January 2013. This has helped clear the way for the company to repurpose some of its 2G spectrum for 4G services.

“There has been a natural drop-off of 2G traffic as 4G smartphones have become more affordable. This has led to many customers upgrading their phones of their own accord,” Mr Millroy said.

Vodafone’s 4G network now covers more than 22 million Australians and every month carries around 14000 terabytes of data, equivalent to watching 14 million hours of streaming video. Vodafone’s 4G coverage is available in all major metro locations and regional areas across Australia.

“We’ve invested billions of dollars in our network over recent years, and with our 4G network now reaching most Australians, more customers are taking advantage of the faster speeds on offer with 4G compatible devices,” said Mr Millroy.

“We are continuing to enhance our network with features including Voice over 4G which provides clearer voice calls, shorter call connection times and the ability to use 4G data while making or receiving a call.

“With the Internet of Things (IoT) on our doorstep, it is paramount we manage spectrum efficiently and reallocate capacity to our more advanced networks to help more of our customers have a better experience,” he said.

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Notes to editors:

4G is available with a 4G device and an active prepaid recharge or plan with Vodafone Alerts.  4G in selected areas of Australia.  See Vodafone.com.au/coverage

 Vodafone will be the last network operator to close its 2G network. Telstra will close its 2G network from December 2016 and Optus from April 2017.

As at 14 September 2016, total data traffic on Vodafone’s 4G network is 76 per cent  in comparison to 2G which is 0.07 per cent. Total voice traffic is 2 per cent.

Vodafone’s most affordable 3G phone, the Alcatel onetouch 2036 3G, is $29.

Vodafone’s most affordable 4G phones, the Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini and Alcatel onetouch Pop 2 4 4G, are $99.

Vodafone’s paging network will be unaffected by the decommissioning of the 2GSM network.