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Are You Ready for the 3G Shutdown?

Are You Ready for the 3G Shutdown?

Time in technology moves on fast. The current mobile phone network runs on three generations of mobile phone network, 3G, 4G and 5G. That all changes this year, with the shutdown of the 3G network – are you ready for the 3G shutdown?

The Vodafone network shut its 3G service in December 2023, the Telstra network will close on June 30 2024 and the Optus network is scheduled to shut down by August 31 2024.

More and more these days, transport operators rely on telematics devices to aid them with issues like access or run their operation through tracking and communicating with their employees and equipment. With the ending of the 3G service, operators need to upgrade any of their devices which still use 3G and replace them with those using 4G or beyond.

Failure to upgrade could mean some of the tracking or communication equipment included in an operation may no longer be compliant and the fact that the communication device is out of service would put the operator in breach of the rules.

“There’s numerous benefits in closing down the 3G network,” said Chris Meisnner, from Telstra, speaking to the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association conference. “The number one benefit from our perspective, when you think about a mobile network, and you think about the capacity on the mobile network spectrum, it’s absolutely key to making sure that we can provide the services that all our customers need.”

The older 3G technology uses up a large part of that spectrum. By closing 3G, Telstra frees up spectrum and can then start to redeploy that across the network to support the incoming 5G network. Telstra have committed to getting 5G out to 95 per cent of the population, by June 2025.

There are around 180 sites that have unique 3G coverage, or they only have a 3G presence. Then there are about 800 sites that will need an upgrade to make 4G more effective. Telstra has roughly 11,700 sites around the country.

“We will be turning off the 3G network,” said Chris. “Talking to some people, it still feels like there’s a little bit of doubt out there, that it might be wrong, or we might not actually keep to the date, but we are absolutely committed to it and have made a firm decision. What that looks like in the 3G network itself, is we can pretty much shut it down in one night.

“So, if you’re hoping it will just continue on, it won’t, we will be shutting it down. We have set up all of the automation and scripting that’s in place to effectively shut down all those 3G systems on all of the sites.”

There are a number of issues around ensuring everyone is aware of the shut down. Many users wouldn’t know for certain which network any particular device uses. The array of different devices which there may be in a transport operation grows every years and some of them will be difficult to keep track of.

“The main thing that we are doing is getting the message out that you do need to engage, you do need to check and you do need to have a look at devices that you’re relying on and take action,” said Chris. “We’re just on the road now constantly, getting out there, making sure the messages are out there with all of our customers.”

Those not sure whether they are still on 3G can go to the Telstra website and it has a long list of FAQs. Customers can navigate through that site and find out whether their devices might still rely on 3G. Alternatively, they can go into a Telstra store and simply ask the question.


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