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Around 5.5 million mobile users must upgrade their devices as the big switch off takes place – Ofcom

Staff Reporter
February 6, 2023

But the good news is the effect of turning off 2G and 3G will have a negligible effect on consumers

Around 5.5 million mobile phone customers using 2G and 3G devices will soon need to replace them as the networks start to move all connectivity over to 4AG and 5G says Ofcom. In its advice to networks on how to manage the switch off, Ofcom reckons this is around six per cent of all mobile subscriptions.

“Three does not have a 2G network, so customers with older devices using its network will need to replace their devices ahead of its 3G switch-off to ensure they can continue to access all their services. Customers who do not upgrade their device ahead of Three’s 3G switch-off will only be able to make emergency calls from their old device” says Ofcom in its document “3G and 2G switch-off Our expectations of mobile providers

“The older customers are, the more likely they are to have an older device. Ten per cent of the over 45s said they have a mobile phone that is older than ten years compared to four per cent of those aged 16-44.”

Ofcom expects the real-world effect of the 2G/3G switch-off is likely to be negligible. Ofcom does not have a formal regulatory role in the switch-off process itself. It says it wants to ensure that customers are treated fairly and can continue to access the services they need with minimal disruption

“ It will also be particularly important that vulnerable customers are protected and receive the support they need during switch-off. We believe we can play a role in helping to ensure that these aims are met”.

Ofcom will be meeting regularly with networks to get updates on their switch-off progress, including the steps they are taking to communicate with customers, how they are meeting their obligations to support vulnerable consumers and how they are taking account of the expectations set out in this document.

Ofcome:“The older customers are, the more likely they are to have an older device”

“Most mobile providers have stopped selling 3G-only devices. But some are still being sold. When customers are purchasing a new device which is only 3G capable it will be important for those selling the device to indicate that those devices will not work on all MNO networks in future, from 2024 onwards for 3G) to ensure customers are not misled.

“t is also important for customers to understand how 2G and 3G switch-offs happening in other countries may impact their roaming experience when travelling, particularly for those on older devices or which are not yet VoLTE-enabled

Full Ofcom report HERE

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