Vodafone is switching off its 2G network in 2017

Angus Kidman 30 September 2016

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If you're still rocking an ancient 2G-only Nokia, the time to upgrade is nigh.

Vodafone will switch off its 2G network in September next year, meaning that there will be no more 2G phone networks operating in Australia.

Vodafone has confirmed a switch-off date of 30 September 2017. Telstra is switching off its 2G network on 1 December 2016, and Optus is getting rid of 2G on 1 April 2017.

So why does this matter? If you're using a smartphone, it almost certainly doesn't, because your device will be capable of accessing 3G and 4G networks and will automatically do so. But if you're using a much older feature phone, there's a fair chance that it isn't equipped to connect to 3G networks. Once the 2G network disappears, it won't be able to be used for making calls or sending texts.

The solution? Purchase a new handset. If you don't want to invest in a smartphone, each carrier still offers a cheap basic feature phone for prepaid customers, typically for under $50. One word of caution: these phones are typically locked to a given network provider, and in some cases won't even work with other providers using the same network. For instance, some Telstra prepaid models won't work with ALDImobile SIMs, even though ALDImobile also uses parts of the Telstra network.

Not sure which network your carrier operates on? Check out our comprehensive guide to the 2G switch-off for everything you need to know.

According to Vodafone, less than 1% of its data traffic and less than 2% of its voice traffic is now carried on 2G, and 600,000 customers have stopped using its 2G network since January 2013. Carriers are now looking to enhance speeds with 5G technologies, with both Vodafone and Telstra having announced 5G trials ahead of a likely roll-out in 2020.

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