3G Mobile Service Ending

Edit: New readers to the topic should click here for an August 2023 update.

Telstra has been advertising (if that’s the right word) that they’ll shut down their 3G (NextG) network in about two years. Industry sources now tell me that Telstra and Optus are beginning the shutdown on the 850 & 900 MHz bands now. As far as I can tell, there are no plans to advertise the shutdown. People are just expected to have a modern VoLTE-capable 4G 'phone.


No public advice yet? Something to consider if your handset is only 3G/X and you need a replacement.

The Telstra Crowd Support discussion dates from July last year, there appears to be little new in the press on the pending demise of 3G.

It’s certainly a concern, however the coverage in rural areas of 3G is greater than 4G. It would seem an unlikely scenario that we would loose Telstra 3G coverage of the major inland highways, without a major investment in new 4G infrastructure by Telstra. The more heavily populated regions and cities do appear to have continuous 4G access per Telstra’s maps. There will still be some with 3G only handsets. It may help understanding if there is something more current from the actual Telcos.

Telstra announced that HD quality (VoLTE) calling would be available progressively in 4G coverage areas for suitable handsets from 2015. Optus has promoted it’s 4G network as providing VoLTE calling for some time.

I’ll just note that the online sites I looked at suggest the P20 Pro and OnePlus 6 as 4G VoLTE capable. This adds slightly to the risk the comments on the Telstra Crowd Support web site are more speculative than informed. Perhaps the facts are simply incomplete? Telstra and Optus have made limited use a number of higher GSM bands for 3G and almost universally the lower 850Mhz or 900Mhz respecrively. Telstra announced it would be turning off 3G on its 2100Mhz progressively from 2016. Customers would have access in the same area to Telstra 3G on the 850MHz band. There is a significant risk of turning off all 3G in the more populated areas without proper notification of 3G only handset owners?



This surprises me. There are still a few areas in the Perth Hills that only have 3G coverage, not to mention rural areas. Are they going to redo all of that with 4G? Or are they just talking about ending 3G coverage in areas with 4G?

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@n3m0 started the post with some comments from a forum re Telstra customer issues, which is as good a place as any to start asking the question. There is no update to this or formal announcements that DR Google can find for me re the main 3G services being turned off.

Note that both Telstra and Optus announced the shutdown of 2G services up to 5 years in advance. They would likely upset too many customers to drop 3G without fair notice.

Yes, one day yet to be announced they wil drop 3G in 4G areas, mostly!

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From what I’m reading, the shutdown of 3G was announced some years ago. Nobody noticed and the telco’s haven’t been shouting about it. It got my attention, only because of a second-hand account of a recent meeting, in which a Telstra representative was quoted as saying that they’re actively shutting down 850 MHz 3G.

There was apparently some mention in a December 2018 article in the Australian. The article is paywalled, so I haven’t seen it. That was in the context of 5G, which makes some sense. In that frequency range, there’s a 5G specification for low-bitrate “Internet of Things” services. That could be a far more profitable use of spectrum than voice.


Thanks for kicking this one off @n3m0. Hope the following helps. There is still no clear answer, but certainly a need for clarity from the big two atelcos on their plans.

Even the sages that contribute to Whirlpool are having the same discussion as us, 6 Dec 18 to 28 Dec.


Similar views re whether it will happen and considerations for the bush. Even speculation with a stretch to using the spectrum for 5G. No discussion since the last post 28 Dec to add any more clarity.

There are some suggestions that by 2020 the current guess of 100’s of thousands of old school 3G only phones will be far fewer. There is discussion of effects on other users including electricity smart meter data modems only on 3G and POS terminals etc.

The HORSES Head!

Skipped the Australian!
Page 32, it’s all started from this one little throw away line. Cunningly disguised as a Telstra 5G presentation. :wink:

Open for a translation of “3G will only start shutting down in the 2020 time frame”. In an more ancient doc this was taken to be saying anywhere from 2020 through to 2030?

There’s enough here to wonder why no one in the press etc has gone back to Telstra with a please explain?


This website from August 2018 states…

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have not announced what the future is for 3G in Australia. On the 17th November 2016, then Telstra COO Brendon Riley expect after 2020 they would need to retire the 3G network.

Also haven’t been able to find any recent Telstra announcements about decommissioning.

The above statement from 2016 possibly could have been a capital investment type statement to advice of minimum capital return period rather than a decommissioning advice.


From what I’ve seen, it seems that 3G will probably be decommissioned in the 2020s (not in 2020). That doesn’t mean that some of the spectrum won’t be re-purposed sooner. The meeting that piqued my interest took place this week. That report implies that both Telstra and Optus have more immediate plans for their longer wavelengths.

This is the oldest report I’ve found:


I was considering using an old Nokia 6166 until I got my new phone. Shame they want to get rid of that.

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My Tom-Tom used the old 2G for traffic before the last provider, Vodafone shut it down. Seems to be working in Europe still.
I wonder how much the shutdown costs them and how much it would take to leave 2G and 3G in place to have satisfied customers?

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Quite a lot as the wirless spectrum they were using for 2G is made available for something else. Each carrier made different decisions. Spectrum can now sell or cost $100M or more? It is in limited supply.

Most of the lower band 3G is likely to be reused for 4G.


Well, thats a PITA. I may be in suburban Newcastle but I cannot get a 4G signal from Telstra, and I cant get anything from Optus or Voda. Looks like people like me will be screwed.

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@SueW, it may help to reread the discussion. No need to panic just yet.

True, 4G will eventually replace 3G.

That you cannot currently get 4G at your location, does not suggest you will not be able to get a 4G service in the future. It would seem unlikely Telstra & Optus would want to loose customers in urban areas?

Some of the concerns and unknowns:

  • Any one with a 3G only phone will need to upgrade when the change over commences. Any change over dates and programs have not been formally announced. Other than Telstra saying it will happen sometime in the next decade.
  • The coverage and range of 4G in rural and regional areas compared to 3G may be less. It is a complex discussion.
  • Some older phones with 4G only do 4G data. A 4G phone needs to support VoLTE to also use it for voice!


In rural and regional areas Telstra sold 3G on having the best range and coverage. 4G can also cover large areas. This is achieved using low frequency bands (eg 700MHz band Telstra) but with much slower than common data rates. Faster but similar to existing 3G services. Telstra is also pushing a product 4GX-lite to cover smaller sites. Anecdotally 4G coverage in the bush is more a handset limitation, and the ability to transmit back to the local tower?

Typically when in a 4G service area your mobile may be using its 3G capabilities for voice calls. All current model 4G phones should support VoLTE. It always pays to check.

There was a long notice period befor the turn off of 2G services. 3G should follow a similar path.


LOL thanks mark, I wasnt panicking, just making an observation.


Telstra announces 3G network closure date: June 2024


I have been told smart electricity meters use 3G to communicate readings back to base.

Is that true?

If so, what will happen when the 3G network is closed?


I’ve been told that’s true of quite a lot of existing infrastructure & telemetry. I’ve also been told that it will be expensive, difficult and in some cases potentially impossible to get them all working on 4G. There’s some work on the unlicenced 433MHz band, but it isn’t promising.

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They have given themselves 5 years to address it, I guess they might be able to do it but from the other experiences we see about how businesses react to changes it may not be a hopeful sign.

I guess they might move to 5G (as 4G will probably close as well sometime nearer in the future). You will only need to have a repeater as well so the signal will get through or just maybe they will use the wonderful and superior nbn™ network to get the signal to it’s home. I hope my sarcasm isn’t poking through.

which will be when the last of the three networks ends 3G. So when Telstra ends 3G in some cases it is as simple as moving to a different carrier - unless the other two now jump in with an earlier end date.

See also Lock Your Meter Box Warning

Good question though - and to be answered by someone who knows (for any given wholesaler).

Or when the last of the three that has coverage in your area ends?