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BT confirms 3G switch off plans

Marc Allera

BT has announced its plans to phase out its 3G network over the next two years.

The telco said that the shift would free up airwaves for its growing 5G network, with which it plans to cover the entire country by 2028.

While there are still a significant number of consumers who are yet to jump to 4G let alone 5G, BT Consumer CEO Marc Allera said that less than 3% of data and 25% of voice traffic was carried on 3G in March. By contrast, he said that 5G traffic has quadrupled since the launch of the latest generation of 5G-capable iPhones. 

BT’s existing 5G network covers 160 towns and cities across the UK, with the operator promising that it will cover 50% of the population by early 2023. By 2028, it said, the EE 5G network will cover 90% of the UK with ‘requestable’ 5G alternatives available for the remainder.

Speaking during an online presentation, Allera said: “EE is the first operator to set a time frame to stop supporting 3G services in early 2023, with customers supported to move off it in a phased transition in the months ahead.”

BT also confirmed that it will also switch off the 25-year-old 2G network later in the decade.

While the focus of this announcement was for its EE mobile network, BT also offers its Halo ‘unbreakable Wi-Fi’ solution for home consumers. This is a fibre optic home broadband connection backed up by an additional cellular connection to fall back on in the event of network connectivity issues.

Tags: 3G, 5g, BT, EE