The last remaining 3G radio frequencies will be repurposed to strengthen Vodafone's 4G and 5G services in the UK.

Vodafone UK has successfully switched off its legacy 3G network across the UK*. The activity, which finished this week, allows Vodafone to repurpose the last remaining 3G radio frequencies to strengthen 4G and 5G services, meaning customers across more parts of the UK can access faster data services and clearer voice calls.

The activity follows an ongoing customer awareness campaign which started in January 2022. This included Vodafone notifying its customers (across both consumer and business) who could have been affected by the switch off, offering information and advice such as how to carry out software upgrades where required and how to activate services such as 4G Calling. The campaign also included working with charities and other third-party groups to reach the most vulnerable customers ahead of switch off in their area.

 Andrea Dona, said: “The 3G legacy switch off has been a massive programme and I’d like to thank my team for their hard work to make this a success. With switch off complete, we can start to redeploy the remaining spectrum which will ultimately lead to stronger and faster 4G and 5G across the UK. All on top of our existing 4G and 5G network improvement programmes. 

Notes to editors

*A small number of locations with UK security significance, as well as a handful of remote rural communities, will remain switched on for a short period of time after the main national switch off.

All UK mobile network operators have confirmed to the Government that they do not intend to offer 2G or 3G mobile networks past 2033

On the 3rd of March 2003 Three Launched its network which had none of thier own 2G, it was all 3G

In 2022 Three were saying ...

Our plans to switch off 3G

We’ll be phasing out our 3G network service gradually over the next 2 years and switching it off by the end of 2024. At the same time, we’re working on bringing you faster download speeds, better quality streaming, and an even more reliable experience with our 4G and 5G rollout. We’re not alone in doing this; other networks in the UK and abroad are also in the process of phasing out their 3G service. 

In 2022 Three were saying ...

Life Needs a Big Network

Whether you’re streaming, gaming, browsing, or video calling, speed and reliability brings you a better mobile experience. That’s why we’re continuing to improve our network by implementing cutting edge technology, building extra 4G/5G sites, accelerating our 5G rollout, and replacing 3G with 4G. Our £2 billion network investment is well underway and will deliver better connectivity every day, for every customer.

As a result, more people in more places will be able to take advantage of being on the UK’s Fastest 5G Network, as awarded by Ookla™.

When 4G first arrived in the UK, your phone would switch from 4G down to 3G or 2G when you had an incoming voice call.... Three is saying they were the first to avoid this, and hence also avoid the sudden loss of data connection that went along with it.

What is 4G Calling and how do I check I have this on my device?

If you bought your phone from us after 2016, it’s very likely you’ll have 4G Calling (also known as VoLTE) capability. In 2016 we became the first UK operator to use 4G for voice calls, giving you a better quality experience.

You can check your device compatibility and find out how to activate 4G Calling (if your device supports it) in our device support hub.

In Feb 2023 Vodafone announced ..

We’re switching off 3G in 2023

You may have seen in the news that all UK networks have committed to closing their 3G networks. Here at Vodafone, we’ll be switching off our 3G network by December 2023, so that we can focus on strengthening our 4G and 5G networks.  

We’ll start by switching off our 3G network in the Plymouth and Basingstoke areas in February 2023

We’ll share more information about our plans to switch off 3G across the rest of the UK soon. 

Why is 3G being switched off?

Why is 3G being switched off?

Twenty years ago, 3G was ideal for the way we used phones and communicated. Since then, technology has continued to grow and improve, which means we can now focus on making our 4G and 5G networks even better.

Once we have switched off 3G, we’ll be able to use that part of the network to boost the speed and capacity of both 4G and 5G – so you’ll enjoy faster and more reliable connections.

3G switch-off in Plymouth and Basingstoke

We’ll be switching off our 3G network in Plymouth and Basingstoke in February 2023. If the switch-off impacts you, we’ll be in touch by text and email with more information on how to stay connected.

I live near Plymouth or Basingstoke, will my signal be affected?

The 3G switch-off in February will be focused on the towns of Plymouth and Basingstoke, but because of how phones connect to mobile networks, if you live nearby, you may notice you can’t get 3G in some other areas.

Your phone will continue to connect to the fastest network connection available. If you’re not sure if your phone is ready for 4G, use our device checker to find out if it’s compatible.

Why is 3G in Plymouth and Basingstoke being switched off first?

We’re choosing to start our 3G switch off in Plymouth and Basingstoke because we’ve made lots of improvements to get these areas ready for 4G.  

In the last 18 months, we’ve: 

We’ve also boosted our indoor 4G coverage to over 99% in both Plymouth and Basingstoke, making it even easier to get better connections.  

Today, over 70% of customers in Plymouth and Basingstoke are already enjoying faster speeds and better connections with 4G and 5G.

What about EE

All UK mobile network operators have committed to closing their 3G networks. At EE we’ll be saying goodbye to 3G in 2024, so that we can focus on strengthening our newer and more reliable 4G and 5G networks.

But this isn’t just happening in the UK. 3G networks are being shut down across the world – meaning that if your device doesn’t support 4G or 5G, then you may not be able to make calls (including to the emergency services) or use data roaming while abroad. 

The 3G network isn’t energy efficient, and its removal will be the dawn of a more sustainable future.


EE’s network has been awarded the best for network performance 9 years in a row by RootMetrics. This means you can experience unbeatable 5G on the UK’s fastest and most reliable network.

But whether you use 4G or 5G, you’ll enjoy the benefits of improved quality calls (meaning fewer calls dropping), and much better internet speeds. So, you’ll find it easier to stay in touch with friends and family and do everything you love online. With EE you’ll have a more reliable connection - even in the busiest places.