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3G shutdown Australia

Vodafone's officially shut down its 3G network, with Optus and Telstra to follow suit in 2024.

What you need to know

  • 3G is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. Currently, the new standard is 4G or 5G.
  • Vodafone is the first major network to shut down its 3G network as of 15 December 2023.
  • Australians will need to upgrade their 3G-only devices such as phones, security alarms, medical devices, EFTPOS machines and old smartwatches.

Has 3G been turned off in Australia?

The 3G network shutdown has begun in Australia. Vodafone is the first major telco to make the move as of 15 December 2023, to make way for new tech.

3G is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. Currently, we've progressed to 5G, meaning the technology for mobile communications is newer and much more efficient.

So similar to how Australia experienced the shutdown of 2G in 2018, we're now bracing for a similar scenario with 3G.

Telstra and Optus have already phased out parts of their 3G network and redeployed the spectrum to help their 4G and 5G services instead.

What date will 3G be shut down?

Vodafone shut down its 3G network on 15 December 2023.

Telstra will follow suit on 30 June 2024 and Optus from September 2024.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that use either the Vodafone, Telstra or Optus network will also be impacted by the shutdown. This includes the likes of Boost Mobile, amaysim, Belong, Catch Connect and felix.

Finder survey: Are Australians from different states currently using 5G?

I don't know14.41%9.59%13.58%8.64%10.58%
I don't have a mobile phone/mobile phone plan0.34%0.45%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

Vodafone 3G network shutdown

Vodafone's 3G network is now a thing of the past.

Its 3G network carried less than 1% of the network's total mobile data traffic.

Before the shutdown, a Vodafone spokesperson had told Finder they had been "committed to keeping their consumer and enterprise customers informed in the lead up to the 3G switch-off" so they'd be prepared well in advance.

Telstra 3G network shutdown

All of Telstra's 3G services will cease by 30 June 2024.

Its 3G network has been in operation since 2006 and the shutdown will come just shy of 2 decades of use.

The telco giant has warned that customers will need to have phones that have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities in order to make and receive calls.

Optus 3G network shutdown

Optus will be the last of the lot to shut down its 3G network from September 2024.

"From September 2024, we'll be repurposing our 3G technology to boost the capacity, speed and reliability of our 4G network and rollout 5G to even more Australians," an Optus blog post says.

"For those interested, this standard practice is called re-farming when a specific mobile radio frequency band is repurposed from one technology to another."

Which phones won't work after the 3G shutdown?

We've curated a list of 3G-only phones in a table that'll be impacted by the shutdown. You can use the search function to type in the model you're looking for.

AlcatelOneTouch 2045
AlcatelOptus X Lite 2038X
AlcatelOptus X Play
AlcatelOptus X Smart
AlcatelPixi 3 (3.5)
AppleiPhone 4
AppleiPhone 4S
AppleiPhone 5
AppleiPhone 5C
AppleiPhone 5S
AppleiPhone 3GS
DoroOptus PhoneEasy 623
GooglePixel 2
GooglePixel 2 XL
GooglePixel 3
GooglePixel 3 XL
GooglePixel 3a
GooglePixel 3a XL
HipipoooSuper Small Mini Smartphone
HuaweiY6 Prime
OppoF5 Youth
PrzSayCheap Mobile Phone
SamsungChrono R260
SamsungGalaxy Grand Prime
SamsungGalaxy J1 Mini
SamsungGalaxy Note 1
SamsungGalaxy Note 2
SamsungGalaxy S
SamsungGalaxy S10 Plus
SamsungGalaxy S2
SamsungGalaxy S3
SamsungGalaxy S4
SamsungGalaxy S5
SamsungGalaxy S8 Plus
SamsungGalaxy S9
SamsungGalaxy S9 Plus
SamsungGalaxy Trend Plus
SamsungStride R330
Sony EricssonCedar (J108a)
ZTEBoost Indy B816
ZTEBoost Sola B111
ZTEOptus Blade A0605
ZTEOptus X Spirit 2
ZTETelstra Blade Q Lux
ZTETelstra Chat 4g V830w
ZTETelstra Cruise T126
ZTETelstra Evoke Plus 2 OctaCore Phone
ZTETelstra Lite 2
ZTETelstra Lite F327S
ZTETelstra Smart Lite L111
ZTETelstra Blade A3

If your phone isn't listed in the above table, it should be good to go (e.g. the iPhone 14 isn't listed as it works on the 4G and 5G network).

But just keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list so you may need to chat to your mobile provider, search online or contact the manufacturer for more information.

How does the 3G shutdown affect you?

There's likely to be 2-3 million 3G-only devices that will be impacted by the forthcoming shutdown.

You may still be holding on to a very old flip, candybar or first-gen smartphone that is 3G only.
The same may apply to other tech such as security systems, medical alarms, EFTPOS machines or old smartwatches.

If they're still working, they've not been impacted by the telcos' redeployment of the 3G spectrum just yet.

You can do 2 things:

  1. Contact your provider and tell them what phone or other 3G-tech you have and ask them what your next steps should be
  2. Look up your product online or contact the manufacturer for further guidance

Make sure that you give yourself enough time to upgrade your tech before the 3G shutdown begins.

Benefits of 4G and 5G network coverage

Moving to 4G will give you better speeds and network reliability as it'll be more efficient than 3G.

5G is still being rolled out but if it's accessible in your area you could in theory get speeds up to 1Gbps.

However, according to Ookla's July 2023 report, median 5G speeds in Australia hovered around the 213.36Mbps mark which is still pretty fast for most people.

What mobile phones can I switch to?

If you don't want to spend $1,000+ upfront on one of the latest smartphones, we've collated 4G phones you can grab as an upgrade.

1 - 5 of 287
Name Product Display Display Rear camera Battery size Overall rating More info More info
Oppo A76
Oppo A76

1612 x 720

  • Display

    6.56 inches

    1612 x 720

  • Rear camera

    13MP + 2MP
  • Battery size

    5,000 mAh
13MP + 2MP
View details
Apple iPhone 11
Apple iPhone 11

828 x 1792

  • Display

    6.1 inches

    828 x 1792

  • Rear camera

    12MP + 12MP
  • Battery size

12MP + 12MP
Not yet rated
View details
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

1242 x 2688

  • Display

    6.5 inches

    1242 x 2688

  • Rear camera

    12MP + 12MP + 12MP
  • Battery size

    4,000 mAh
12MP + 12MP + 12MP
View details
Samsung Galaxy Note10
Samsung Galaxy Note10

1080 x 2280

  • Display

    6.3 inches

    1080 x 2280

  • Rear camera

    16MP + 12MP + 12MP
  • Battery size

    3,500 mAh
16MP + 12MP + 12MP
Not yet rated
View details
Apple iPhone XS
Apple iPhone XS

1125 x 2436

  • Display

    5.8 inches

    1125 x 2436

  • Rear camera

    12MP + 12MP
  • Battery size

    2,659 mAh
12MP + 12MP
Not yet rated
View details

You can also check out our guide to the best budget phones in Australia to explore tech that may better suit your needs in 2023.

Another option if you have a higher budget is to consider getting a more recent iPhone or Samsung phone on a plan.

Newer flagship phones are equipped to operate on both the 4G and 5G network in Australia, so you'll be good for a long while.

Will I also need to switch mobile plans?

Thankfully, no. Mobile plans already operate on the 4G network by default, switching to the 3G network only in areas with spotty coverage or if your phone isn't equipped to connect to the 4G network.

Once you have a 4G-enabled phone, your current mobile plan will naturally connect to the 4G network.

How long will 4G last in Australia?

There's no set date for when the 4G network will be shut down but we can assume it'll be around for a few more years based on the introduction and closure of past and present networks.

  • 2G was first introduced in 1992 and it was closed in 2018 - that's 26 years later.
  • 3G was first introduced in Australia in 2005 and it's only being officially shut down 18 years later.
  • 4G was introduced in 2011 and 5G was introduced in 2019 and both are expected to operate simultaneously to complement any gaps in coverage.

We can expect 4G to be around for at least another decade if we average out how many years it took to shut down 2G and very soon, 3G.

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Written by

Mariam Gabaji

Mariam Gabaji is an editor and tech and utilities expert at Finder with 12+ years of experience as a journalist. Her goal is to help households cut through the industry jargon and save money on their household bills. Her expertise is often featured in media including the ABC, Yahoo Finance, 9News, 7News, A Current Affair, The Guardian, SBS and Money Magazine. See full profile

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