Telstra is already planning for the death of 3G

Alex Kidman 17 November 2016

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2G’s demise is only a matter of weeks away, but the death clock is already ticking for 3G as well.

If you’re one of a handful of Australians still hanging onto your old 2G phone, especially if you’re a Telstra customer, it's definitely time to upgrade. The telco giant is killing its 2G services everywhere except Christmas Island on 1 December 2016. And even Christmas Island locals, if they ever plan to visit the mainland, will need to invest in a 3G-capable handset.

And even then it turns out you’re living on borrowed time, slightly. In a presentation to investors today, Telstra has signalled that it is already getting ready to kill off its 3G network around 2020.

While it doesn’t yet have an absolute fixed date for the death of its 3G services, a slide outlining its planned journey towards 5G services indicates that the likely shutoff date should be in 2020, which gives your 3G phone (if you’re still rocking one) around 3-4 years of life left. In mobile phone terms, given the rate at which we tend to lose or break phones, or simply get hungry for an upgrade, that’s plenty of planning time to shift up to at least a 4G-capable device.

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That doesn’t mean that Telstra is abandoning its 4G network though. Its plans call for an expansion of 4G capability to at least 87% of the Australian population by the end of 2019 as a mark of differentiation from its competitor networks.

5G is still where Telstra and other networks see the future of mobile communications. Telstra is committed to 5G trials at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, while rival Optus recently announced successful 5G trials of up to 35Gbps. Vodafone recently demonstrated the rich media capabilities of its own 5G trials.

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