The 2G & 3G sunset is on the horizon – is your business ready?
About our definitive guide to the 2G & 3G sunset
“Sunsetting” is the latest buzzword to surge across the IoT industry. All businesses utilising 2G and 3G networks need to be aware of what the sunset is and how it will affect them. To help you understand what the 2G and 3G sunset is, we’ve created this definitive guide.
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What is the 2G & 3G sunset?
When a mobile network operator (MNO) announces that a network will be sunsetted, they are planning to turn off the cellular infrastructure required for this network to operate. The 2G and 3G sunset is the gradual phasing out of the 2G and 3G networks. With newer and better network technologies being rolled out around the world, such as LTE and 5G, 2G and 3G are slowly being made redundant. Whilst the overall turn-off isn’t happening until 2025, some MNOs are already switching off their 2G and 3G networks. For this reason, it’s better to act now and adopt 4G, LTE or 5G connectivity as a replacement for your legacy 2G and 3G deployments.
What is going to be affected?
We’ll discuss this in more depth later on, but here are a few examples of technologies that will be affected by the sunset:
- Old mobile phones
- Medical devices
- Fire alarms
- Ankle monitors
Now you’ve got a basic understanding of what the 2G and 3G sunset is, lets take a look at why it’s being turned off.
Why is the 2G & 3G sunset happening?
Many businesses will need to think about how they are going to replace existing connections and futureproof the deployment of new mobile and IoT solutions. Understanding why the 2G and 3G sunset is happening will make this process much easier.
The evolution of technology
2G and 3G networks have been around since 1991 and 2001 respectively, and technology has made considerable developments since they were released. We’re beginning to see some huge growth in the mobile and IoT space, and these modern-day technologies require more advanced connectivity options in order to operate effectively. With 5G and LTE connectivity now readily available, it’s now time to sunset legacy networks.
The cost of maintaining a network
The cost of maintaining legacy networks can be monumental. Resources and expertise for end of life (EOL) technologies such as 2G and 3G start to deplete, and the cost to keep them running cannot be justified. This is highlighted even more so when there are more effective and cost-efficient options out there and resources need to be directed into the ongoing development of 5G. Until a few years ago, the 3G network was used for making and receiving voice calls as the 4G network couldn’t handle them. However, since the 4G network was upgraded to cover phone calls, the 3G network became redundant. For this reason, it no longer makes financial sense for MNOs to maintain it.
Impact on IoT
The 2G and 3G sunset is already underway and many businesses are already facing the impact of the switch off. Businesses utilising these outgoing networks will need to assess their existing IoT deployments and find an alternative means of connectivity sooner rather than later.
Here are some examples of IoT technologies that will be affected by the sunset:
Vehicle emergency calling
In the UK, new vehicles are equipped with a mandated eCall system that connects those vehicles to the national emergency services system. This helps improve response times as a notification is sent to the emergency services when an airbag is deployed. This eCall system has been a mandatory feature in all cars produced since April 2018. Unfortunately, these systems utilise the 2G and 3G networks. Similarly to smart meters, the average life expectancy of a car is around 15 years. This means that the end of life (EOL) networks would need to remain active and be maintained until at the mid-2030s. Car manufacturers will need to address this obstacle and ensure that a more modern type of connectivity is used by eCall systems moving forward. It also poses a problem for existing vehicles as their eCall systems will cease to work after the sunset has reached completion in 2025.
Service downtime & disruption
The most obvious and problematic impact on IoT is service downtime and disruption. When the 2G and 3G networks get switched off, many devices are still going to be reliant on them. This is going to cause disruption to individuals and companies if they haven’t switched over to 4G, LTE and 5G-ready devices. Here’s a good example of how poor preparation for the switch-off can cause businesses to grind to a halt…
When AT&T sunsetted it’s 2G network in 2017, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency didn’t prepare even though they knew about it for five years beforehand. They didn’t implement an alternative solution to their 3G digital displays before the network was turned off and were caught short. As a result, they experienced huge disruption to their operations for two whole weeks before an alternative was sourced and implemented. This proved to be very financially damaging for the company.
One of the most common solutions that will be affected by the 2G and 3G sunset is smart meters. There’s been a big push in the roll out of smart meters across the UK over the past decade. In fact, energy providers are aiming to have smart meters in every house by 2024. They’re meant to have a life span of around 15 years, however, smart meters rely on the 2G and 3G network. In order for these smart meters to continue operating for the entirety of their proposed lifespan, the 2G and 3G networks would need to be maintained until 2039. With the switch off reaching completion in 2025, this simply will not happen.
End-users will be the biggest group of people affected by the 2G and 3G sunset. This is because any device that solely uses 2G and 3G will become obsolete. People spend a lot of money on technology, and many will have to replace their existing connected solutions at their personal expense. A good example of how end-users rely on IoT technology is with the elderly. Many end-users utilise IoT devices to keep a virtual eye on their elderly relatives every day. Solutions include medical monitoring and fall detection etc. When the 2G and 3G networks are fully sunsetted, some of these services will fail. This can have a big impact on families as they could be unable to track their relatives without investing in an alternative solution.
Sunset case studies
In 2020, Telenor and Telia announced their plans to shut down their 3G networks in Denmark. Their target was to cease all 3G services by April 2021. As 3G was in the process of being phased out, they channelled traffic on to their 4G and 5G networks. To carry out this plan with minimal interruption, they took a slower approach and migrated the country section by section.
China began the shutdown of its 2G and 3G networks in 2020 after announcing their intentions to do so in 2019. They started the shut down by taking action in the province of Yunnan. After this province began its shut down, more provinces followed suit. A big reason for China’s early prioritisation of 4G, 5G and LTE was a result of the security benefits. 2G and 3G are much more vulnerable than these modern-day network technologies.
Some MNOs in the USA have been ahead of the curve when it comes to sunsetting the 2G and 3G networks. AT&T stopped servicing it’s 2G network in 2017, whilst Verizon phased out its 2G CDMA network at the end of 2020. The first stage of this shut down was to stop new devices being activated on the network. Once this stage was complete, they proceeded with the shutdown of the whole 2G network.
The 2G & 3G sunset timeline
Find out how the 2G & 3G networks are being sunsetted across the world. Please note that these dates often change and nothing is set in stone. At the time this guide was created, the below information was correct and up-to-date. We will continue to update this table as and when new information surfaces.
|South Africa||Telkom||ZAFTM||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|South Africa||Vodacom||ZAFVC||Coming, no clear date|
|Canada||Bell||CANBM||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|Canada||Eastlink||CANEL||No 2G||No 3G (sunset 2019)|
|Canada||Rogers||CANRW||Phase out Q4 2021*||Phase out 2025**|
|Canada||SaskTel||CANST||No 2G (sunset 2017)|
|Canada||Telus||CANTS||No 2G (sunset 2017)|
|Mexico||AT&T||MEXIU||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|Mexico||Movistar (Telefonica)||MEXMS||Phase out 2021|
|Panama||Digicel Panama||PANDC||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|St Martin (FR)||UTS Setel||ANTTC||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|United States||AT&T||USACG||No 2G||Phase out Q1 2022|
|United States||T-Mobile USA||USAW6||Phase out 2022 (unclear)||Phase out Q4 2021|
|United States||Union Telephone||USAUN||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|United States||Verizon||USAVZ||No 2G||No 3G|
|United States||Viaero||USACI||No 2G (sunset 2018)|
*1900 MHz in Q2 2021, 850 MHz in Q4 2021 **Downsizing capacity 1900 MHz Phase out Q2 2021
|Bahrain||Batelco||BHRBT||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|Bangladesh||Grameenphone||BGDGP||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2026|
|Cambodia||Smart Cambodia||KHMSM||Phase out Q4 2021|
|China||China Mobile||CHNCT||Phase out 2021|
|China||Unicom||CHNCU||Phase out Q4 2021||Coming, no clear date|
|Guam||NTT DoCoMo||GUMHT||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|Hong Kong||China Mobile Hong Kong||HKGPP||Phase out 2021|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong CSL (New World PCS)||HKGNW||Phase out 2021|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong Telecommunications (PCCW)||HKGTC||Phase out 2021|
|Hong Kong||Hutchison Telecom||HKGH3||Phase out 2021|
|Hong Kong||SmarTone (Vodafone)||HKGSM||Phase out 2021|
|India||Bharti Airtel||INDAT||Phase out Q4 2023||No 3G (sunset 2020)|
|India||IDEA India||INDID||No 3G (sunset 2020)|
|India||Vodafone Essar||INDHM||No 3G (sunset 2020)|
|Indonesia||XL excelcom||IDNEX||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Japan||KDDI||JPNKD||No 2G (sunset 2012)||Phase out 2026|
|Japan||NTT DoCoMo||JPNDO||No 2G (sunset 2011)||Phase out 2026|
|Japan||SoftBank||JPNJP||No 2G (sunset 2011)||Phase out Q1 2024|
|Jordan||Umniah Mobile Company||JORUM||Phase out 2021|
|Macau||CTM||MACCT||No 2G (sunset 2015)|
|Macau||Hutchison||MACHT||No 2G (sunset 2015)|
|Macau||Smartone||MACSM||No 2G (sunset 2015)|
|Malaysia||Celcom (Malaysia) Berhad||MYSCC||Phase out 2021|
|Malaysia||Digi||MYSMT||Phase out Q4 2024|
|Malaysia||Maxis Mobile||MYSBC||Phase out 2021|
|Myanmar||Telenor||MMRTN||Phase out Q4 2024||Phase out 2025|
|Nepal||Nepal Doorsanchar Company (NTC)||NPLNM||Phase out Q4 2021|
|Pakistan||Mobilink||PAKMK||No 2G (sunset 2020)||No 3G (sunset 2020)|
|Pakistan||Telenor||PAKTP||Phase out 2025||Phase out 2023|
|Saudi Arabia||Mobily||SAUET||Phase out 2022|
|Saudi Arabia||Saudi Telecom (AI Jawal)||SAUAJ||Phase out 2022||Phase out 2022|
|Saudi Arabia||ZAIN||SAUZN||Phase out 2022|
|Singapore||M1||SGPM1||No 2G (sunset 2017)||Phase out after 2025|
|Singapore||Singtel||SGPST||No 2G (sunset 2017)||Phase out after 2025|
|Singapore||Starhub||SGPSH||No 2G (sunset 2017)||Phase out after 2025|
|South Korea||KT Freetel||KORKF||No 2G (sunset 2012)|
|South Korea||SK Telecom||KORSK||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|Taiwan||Asia Pacific Telecom||TWNGT||No 2G (sunset 2017)||No 3G (sunset 2017)|
|Taiwan||Chunghwa Telecom LDM||TWNLD||No 2G (sunset 2017)||No 3G (sunset 2019)|
|Taiwan||Far EasTone Telecommunications||TWNFE||No 2G (sunset 2017)||No 3G (sunset 2019)|
|Taiwan||Taiwan Mobile||TWNPC||No 2G (sunset 2017)||No 3G (sunset 2019)|
|Taiwan||Vibo Taiwan Star telecom||TWNTG||No 2G (sunset 2018)||No 3G (sunset 2019)|
|Thailand||AIS||THAWN||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|Thailand||DTAC TriNet||THADT||Phase out 2021||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Thailand||RealFuture TrueMove||THACA||No 2G (sunset 2019)|
|United Arab Emirates||DU Emirates||AREDU||Phase out Q3 2022|
|United Arab Emirates||Etisalat UAE||ARETC||Phase out Q3 2022|
|Vietnam||Beeline Vietnam (Gtel)||VNMBL||Phase out 2022|
|Vietnam||Vietnamobile||VNMVM||Phase out 2022|
|Vietnam||Viettel||VNMVT||Phase out 2022|
|Vietnam||VMS Vietnam||VNMMO||Phase out 2022|
|Vietnam||Vinaphone (VNPT)||VNMVI||Phase out 2022|
|Albania||Vodafone||ALBVF||Available until at least 2025|
|Austria||A1||AUTPT||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Bulgaria||A1 (Mobiltel)||BGR01||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Croatia||T-Mobile||HRVCN||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Czech Republic||O2 (Telefonica)||CZEET||Phase out Q4 2021|
|Czech Republic||T-Mobile||CZERM||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2021|
|Czech Republic||Vodafone||CZECM||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q1 2021|
|Denmark||TDC||DNKTD||Phase out 2021|
|Denmark||Telenor||DNKDM||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q3 2022|
|Denmark||Telia||DNKIA||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q2 2021|
|Denmark||Three||DNKHU||Phase out 2021|
|Estonia||TeliaSonera||ESTEM||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Finland||DNA||FIN2G||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2023|
|Finland||Elisa (Radiolinja)||FINRL||Phase out Q4 2023|
|Finland||TeliaSonera||FINTF||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2025|
|France||SFR||FRAF2||Available until at least 2030|
|Germany||O2 (Telefonica)||DEUE2||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Germany||T-Mobile||DEUD1||Phase out Q2 2021|
|Germany||Vodafone||DEUD2||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q2 2021|
|Greece||COSMOTE||GRCCO||Phase out Q4 2021|
|Greece||Vodafone||GRCPF||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Hungary||Vodafone||HUNVR||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q3 2021|
|Ireland||Hutchison 3G||IRLH3||Phase out 2021||Phase out Q1 2023|
|Ireland||O2||IRLDF||Phase out 2025||Phase out Q1 2023|
|Ireland||Vodafone||EIRLEC||Phase out 2025|
|Italy||Vodafone||ITAOM||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q1 2021|
|Latvia||LMT (Telia)||LVALM||Phase out 2022|
|Lithuania||Bite||LTUMT||Phase out 2026 – 2028||Phase out 2024 – 2025|
|Lithuania||Telia (Omnitel)||LTUOM||Phase out 2025||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Luxembourg||POST||LUXPT||Phase out Q4 2022|
|Malta||EPIC||MLTTL||Phase out 2025|
|Montenegro||M-Tel||MNEMT||Phase out 2025|
|Netherlands||KPN||NLDPT||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q1 2022|
|Netherlands||T-Mobile||NLDPN||Phase out Q3 2021||Coming, expected 2030|
|Netherlands||Vodafone||NLDLT||Available until at least 2025||Phase out from 2020|
|Norway||Com4||NORC4||Phase out 2025||No 3G (sunset 2020)|
|Norway||Telenor||NORTM||Phase out 2025||Phase out 2021|
|Norway||Telia||NORNC||Phase out 2021|
|Poland||T-Mobile||POL02||Phase out 2024 – 2025|
|Portugal||Vodafone (Telecel)||PRTTL||Phase out 2025||Phase out Q1 2022|
|Romania||Vodafone (MobiFon)||ROMMF||Phase out 2025|
|Slovakia||Telekom Slovakia||SVKET||Phase out Q4 2021|
|Spain||Telefonica||ESPTE||Phase out 2025|
|Spain||Vodafone||ESPAT||Phase out 2025|
|Sweden||Tele2||SWEIQ||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Sweden||Telenor||SWEEP||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Sweden||Telia||SWETR||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out Q4 2025|
|Switzerland||Sunrise||CHEDX||Phase out Q4 2022||Phase out 2024*|
|Switzerland||Swisscom||CHEC1||No 2G (sunset 2020)|
|United Kingdom||EE||GBRME||Phase out Q4 2025||Phase out 2022*|
|United Kingdom||O2 (Telefonica)||GBRCN||Expected 2030|
|United Kingdom||Vodafone||GBRVF||Available until at least 2025||Phase out Q4 2022|
*Now downsizing capacity & frequencies
|Australia||SingTel Optus||AUSOP||No 2G (sunset 2017)|
|Australia||Telstra||AUSTA||No 2G (sunset 2017)||*|
|Australia||Vodafone||AUSVF||No 2G (sunset 2018)||**|
|New Zealand||2 Degrees (NZ Comm.)||NZLNH||No 2G (sunset 2018)|
|New Zealand||Spark Telecom||NZLTM||No 2G (sunset 2007)|
|New Zealand||Vodafone||NZLBS||Phase out 2025|
*Downsizing capacity & frequencies (from 2019) – 850 MHz available until 2030 **Downsizing capacity & frequencies (from 2019)
How to prepare for the 2G & 3G sunset
Find out how you can prepare for the 2G and 3G sunset and minimise disruptions to your business. We’ll be sure to include a few easy-to-follow hints to help you with your preparation.
Audit your current system
It’s important to audit your current systems as early as possible. Take note of all the things that may be affected by the sunset and draw up a plan of what needs to be replaced. It’s important to audit your IoT devices sooner rather than later to avoid any unnecessary downtime later down the line. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, it’s better to note it down and talk to the manufacturer or your connectivity provider. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
Futureproofing your IoT deployments is essential if you want them to continue working in the long-term. 3G has been around for more than 20 years, and although it was cutting edge a decade ago, it has fallen behind. Businesses now have access to better performance and more reliability than 2G and 3G. Moving on to the newest and most advanced network, 5G, will give you many more years of operation before you even need to think about replacing your IoT services again. This type of thinking can keep you ahead of the curve for the foreseeable future.
Adopt new technologies
Adopting new technology is where your audit notes come in handy. Consider the latest technologies such as LPWAN (low-power wide-area networks). Known for its superior latency and capacity, and its low-power functionality, LPWA technologies are changing the IoT landscape. Use your notes from your audit to consider the scope of your project, focussing on maintenance and budget requirements. Re-evaluate your systems and integrate the latest technology that works for you to stay in front of any disruptions that could be caused by a legacy connectivity solution. If you need to speak to an expert, reach out to your IoT connectivity provider for assistance.
The 2G and 3G sunset is happening as we speak. Businesses who are still utilising IoT or mobile solutions that run over these network technologies need to reassess their choice of connectivity and find an alternative solution that works for them. Now is the time to audit your existing solutions and have conversations with mobile network operators (MNOs) and IoT connectivity providers to build and implement a business continuity plan.
If you have any further questions about the 2G and 3G sunset, we would be more than happy to offer you our expert advice. So if you need to find a suitable alternative to the legacy networks that are due to reach EOL, or if you want to explore the benefits of LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT (Narrowband-IoT), please don’t hesitate to contact our team of specialists.