VODAFONE customers will soon have to upgrade their phone in order to use their data allowance – if they have not already done so.
The network is expected to switch off its 3G services completely in early 2024, but has already suspended services in some areas of the UK.
“We have already switched off our 3G network in Plymouth, Basingstoke, Hull, Oxford and Glasgow,” Vodafone said.
“If you have a 3G phone and 3G is turned off, you can only use our 2G network.
“You can still send text messages and make calls, but you’ll get a better connection if you switch to a phone that supports 4G calling – this means you can make calls over the 4G network.”
It’s part of an industry-wide effort to retire 3G spectrum to make way for stronger 4G and 5G services.
EE has announced that it will end 3G services in early 2024.
Three expects to shut down its own 3G network at the end of 2024.
While Virgin Media O2 announced last week that it would cut off access to 3G from 2025.
Am I affected?
According to Vodafone, it is estimated that around 5.5 million people in the UK still use devices that rely on 2G or 3G services.
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The decision to abolish 3G will primarily affect people with older devices.
This is because these devices do not have the built-in wireless technology required for a 4G or 5G connection.
The affected devices will be released before 2012 or before the initial introduction of 4G.
Can I still use my mobile data?
If your phone is only compatible with 2G and 3G, you will no longer be able to access most of your mobile data allowance.
You will need to upgrade your phone to a newer model that can connect to 4G or 5G if you want to use your mobile data.
This has led campaigners to warn that switching off 3G networks will cause people with older phones to fall into “digital poverty”, according to the BBC.
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Ofcom has provided advice for consumers to opt out on their website.
However, you can still use your call minutes and SMS quota as usual.
How do I know if my phone can access 4G?
Many consumers will not be able to buy a new phone during a cost of living crisis.
However, there is a way to check if your device can access 4G to avoid spending money on a newer phone.
If you have an iPhone, just follow these steps:
- Go to Settings > Generally > Cellular.
- Here if you see Enable 4G LTE Option your phone is 4G compatible.
- You can select this option to activate 4G.
For Android users, do the following:
- Go to Settings > Mobile networks > Network mode.
- Here you can see whether your phone has the option to select a 4G/LTE mode.
- If the mode is listed, your phone is 4G capable.
Alternatively, you can check your device model and release date to see if you are affected.
Below are the first 4G compatible phones to hit the market:
- iPhone 5 16GB
- iPhone 5 32GB
- iPhone 5 64GB
- Samsung Galaxy S III LTE
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE
- HTC One XL
- Huawei Ascend P1 LTE
If you own one of these devices or your device is newer, then you’re in the clear.
If not, you may not be able to use your data plan beyond 2024, depending on your provider.
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