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Blog | Is Your Phone Ready for the 2G Network Shutdown?

Is Your Phone Ready for the 2G shutdown?

2/5/2016

Do you prefer old-style phones?

Old phones… Nowadays, they’re sometimes referred to as dumbphones, those mobile phones that pre-date the internet era smartphones… Whatever you call them, older style mobile phones are cheap, reliable and easy to use – and their batteries last much longer compared to the newer internet-generation smartphones… These old-style phones have some loyal fans who like using buttons rather than a screen, only want to make calls and perhaps send text messages – and who haven’t seen any point in upgrading to a newer phone while the old one still works just fine. Unfortunately, one thing these old phones have in common is that they use the 2G network which is on the verge of being disconnected by Australia’s two biggest phone companies, Telstra and Optus.

What's 2G?

2G, or second generation, wireless phone technology was launched in the 1990s and was the first digital mobile phone network. Really it was the first technology to allow mobile phones to be accessible to most people – before 2G ‘mobile’ phones were both huge and expensive… Remember those enormous 1980s phones that definitely wouldn’t fit in your pocket?! Those were 1G. The more recent generations 3G and, most recently, 4G are each successively faster and better able to cope with the demands of not only voice traffic but also the internet traffic many modern phone users rely on.

The End of 2G

What this evolution means is that phone companies have, to date, been running technology which supports three generations of network.   However, with the technology ageing (over 20 years old) and fewer and fewer people using 2G phones (less than 1% according to Telstra), it looks like the end is nearly here for the 2G network. Telstra announced last year that on December 1st 2016 its 2G network will be discontinued for good; Optus later announced that their 2G network will be closed down on April 1st 2017. Any phone which operates only on these 2G networks will no longer be able to make or receive calls after the shutdown.  Also, do bear in mind that if you’re with one of the smaller mobile phone providers such as Virgin, Boost Mobile or Amaysim – they all piggyback on the big networks so the 2G shutdown will affect them in the same way. Currently the only mobile provider keeping the 2G network going at this stage is Vodafone – so if you’re with Vodafone you’re fine  for now (though it’s really only a matter of time).

What does this mean for you?

So, the question is… Is this issue likely to affect you? Well, the first thing to do is look in the top right or left of your phone screen – some phones display what network they’re using, be it 2G, 3G or 4G (unfortunately not all phones show this so it isn’t a foolproof way of telling). If you have a non-smart phone which you bought in the last few years, companies like Telstra and Optus haven’t sold 2G only phones recently so you’re probably going to be OK – but if you’re at all unsure we’d recommend checking your manual or going to your local shop to have a chat with your mobile phone provider to see where you stand... One other thing to bear in mind - if you have a 2G SIM but your phone can already work on the 3G network your provider should be happy to swap the SIM for free.

It might be time for a new phone and SIM – but the good news is that there are quite a few non-smart 3G phones available and you’ve got time so it’s worth shopping around to find something which meets your needs.

Is this an issue which concerns you? We’d love to hear what you think - email us on www.cotasa.org.au