What to do When Optus and Telstra Close Their 3G Networks

Optus and Telstra shutting down 3G

Once upon a time, 3G was the fastest mobile network out there. Now, 3G will soon be extinct in Australia as 4G grows even wider and the 5G roll out continues.

The vast majority of smartphones in Australia are 4G capable. The newest phones are actually 5G capable as well, marking the beginning of a new era. Telstra has announced that their 3G network will be shut down in June of 2024, and Optus has now announced that their 3G network will be shut down in April of 2022.

But this doesn’t mean 3G isn’t important in today’s world – it still is. In this article, we’ll look into who will be most affected by the 3G shutdown, and what to do when Optus and Telstra close their 3G networks.

Get a new plan before 3G disappears

Who will be mostly affected when Optus and Telstra close their 3G networks?

In rural parts of Australia, the 5G roll out is moving a lot slower than it is in urban areas. Rural areas still don’t have 4G coverage that’s as wide as their 3G coverage. This makes rural Australia quite dependent on 3G, even as newer wireless network technologies become the norm.

3G mobile networks are also important to consumers with wearables and some smart home devices, as well as enterprises, government agencies, and agribusiness customers. Many wearables can only connect to the Internet using 3G mobile networks. The same is true about devices used by enterprises, government and agribusinesses.

In such cases, adapting to the new normal of 4G and 5G will take a complete overhaul of the devices in question. For enterprises and government, this means a lot of money. And for consumers who are affected will have to purchase 4G or 5G devices – another expense.

What to do if you’re affected by the upcoming 3G shutdown

While 3G will be phased out eventually, most Australians won’t even realise it when it disappears. That’s because the vast majority of devices in the country are already 4G capable, with newer devices being released with 5G capabilities. In these cases, your mobile device will operate as if 3G was never phased out. Your device probably only uses 4G and 5G networks right now anyway.

For those in rural areas, however, things might get a little more complicated. Because 3G networks are relied on more in rural areas than urban areas, rural Australians might have to upgrade their devices if they are not 4G capable.

Thankfully, 4G smartphones are quite cheap these days. For less than $100, you could purchase a 4G phone – and even some flagship phones could be purchased for cheap in the second hand market. And the best part is that you have more than enough time to upgrade your device if you need to – almost a year if you’re an Optus customer, and around 3 years if you’re a Telstra customer.

How Optus and Telstra plan to ease hardships resulting from the upcoming 3G shutdown

While you can do a lot to avoid getting affected when Optus and Telstra phase out 3G, both telcos also have plans to make things a little easier.

Telstra will upgrade their 4G network to have a similar reach and coverage to their current 3G network. This is good for rural Australians who have a 4G device but have to rely mostly on 3G networks given the smaller 4G coverage. The telco will also reallocate their 3G spectrum for 5G use.

Optus is taking a similar approach with plans to reallocate 3G to help with their 5G growth and improve their 4G network.

Final words – 5G is on its way to becoming the new normal

These upcoming changes over the next couple of years were to be expected. Back in 2016, Telstra shut down their 2G network to allow 3G become the more widespread choice. Users who were in areas without quality 4G networks were then connected to 3G until they entered areas with strong 4G networks.

The same is happening now as telcos announce the shut down of their 3G network, and 4G will eventually become the back up network where 5G connections are weak.

Today, the 5G roll out is fully underway, so both Optus’ and Telstra’s announcements come as no surprise. For instance, Telstra’s 5G network already covers 75 percent of the Australian population, and it continues to grow. With 5G rolling out so fast, as well as manufacturers churning out 5G phones for all budget ranges, 5G will quickly become the new normal while 4G will become the fall back option, leaving 3G to be a dormant network that will be better used as reallocated spectrum to improve current network generations.