Less than four per cent of current data traffic across the network is delivered through 3G compared to over 30pc in 2016.
Vodafone has announced that it will begin retirement of its 3G network in 2023 as part of a strategy for more of the UK to access reliable connectivity.
After 17 years in operation, 3G coverage will be phased out and 4G and 5G services will be improved for customers.
Vodafone will also lead a year-long campaign with charities such as Good Things Foundation and third-party groups to reach vulnerable customers and keep connected.
Vodafone CEO Ahmed Essam said: “We’re going to be focused on giving customers a faster and more reliable mobile experience, and minimising our impact on the environment by taking away a layer of our network that uses inefficient equipment.
“During the campaign, we’ll be asking customers not just to make sure that their own phone supports 4G and 4G Calling, but also to check in on friends and family.
“There are people who aren’t confident with technology, and we want to ensure everyone is getting the help that they need, so that no one is left behind.”
Good Things Foundation group chief executive Helen Milner OBE added: “Access to a digital connection is vital, especially for the most vulnerable people in our society.
“With the move away from 3G, people risk being disconnected, locked out and left behind.
“That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with Vodafone to ensure as many people as possible continue to have the essential digital access they need.”
Working towards Net Zero
Retiring Vodafone’s 3G network is integral to reach Net Zero by 2027 as 5G networks are over 10 times more energy efficient as 3G equipment.
NTT DATA UK vice president head of network and B2B business Sharad Sharma said: “Not only do 4G and 5G enable Vodafone to provide faster and more reliable services for its customers, but the greater efficiency of these technologies also supports Vodafone in its strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions across its UK operations by 2027.
“More efficient network services are crucial for a more sustainable future, but it’s vital that customers with legacy technology are not left behind.
“Clear communication about the retirement of these services is necessary to ensure everyone can be part of the shift to 4G and 5G.”