Recent developments in the global Telecoms industry may signal the end of an era for 3G, the internet connection which ushered in the age of smartphone technology as many network providers have initiated moves to disconnect devices still using the network.
Global internet service providers like AT&T, T-Mobile had shut down the service earlier in 2022 and most recently, Verizon and Vodafone have notified customers that they intend to cut off 3G-enabled devices from their networks from December 2022 and December 2023 respectively.
3G is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology which was first rolled out commercially in mid-2001 and was an upgrade over the 2G, 2.5G, GPRS and 2.75G networks.
At the moment, it has been succeeded by the launch of 4G, 5G and most recently, a test run of 6G in China which is a super upgrade to the service.
Apart from the companies mentioned above, the October report of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has confirmed that 142 companies in 56 countries have either completed, planned, or are in the process of shutting down 2G and 3G networks.
The decision to shut down these networks according to experts is being accelerated to make way for a stronger 5G technology and other networks.
When the network operators shut down 2G networks, the spectrums can be recycled for 4G and 5G networks, offering far greater connectivity options for consumers.
Despite these announcements, no operator in Africa is yet to announce a shutdown of 2G/3G technology. South Africa however, has issued a statement about the future of 2G and 3G in the country.
The government announced that by June 2023, it will completely phase out licensing of 2G devices. In the second half of 2024, the country plans to carry out a similar process for 3G which will end in March 2025.
In Nigeria, there has been no announcement to join the shutdown but the state of the currently used equipment which was built on the infrastructure of older networks can cause issues for the network operators.
Experts have revealed that the 5G licence currently being auctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission can be deployed on the infrastructure of older networks.
These older networks, however, have a deadline date set by the original equipment manufacturers indicating when they will stop producing equipment for 3G and 2G and when the time comes, TELCOS using these equipment models may have difficulty operating.