Older 4G devices impacted by 3G shutdown

blog image 2023_3g shutdown

In our 4G and 5G world, 3G can sound terribly old school, meaning you may not have paid much attention its imminent shutdown. Telstra has been warning the market for five long years that this day is coming. Make no mistake, the 3G network will disappear. Telstra has extended the closure of their 3G network by two months, now scheduled to cease on 31 August 2024.


The 3G shutdown impacts 4G phones

While the 3G shutdown has been a long time coming, it has recently come to light that the 3G shutdown also impacts older 4G phones that don’t have an important feature called VoLTE emergency calling. As the ABC reported in early April, this has the potential to impact more than one million older 4G mobile phones which are at risk of being blocked from making triple zero calls in 3G shutdown.

VoLTE stands for Voice over Long-Term Evolution (LTE), allowing voice calls to be transmitted over a 4G network instead of relying on traditional 2G or 3G networks. By using the data network, VoLTE enables sharper and clearer call quality, faster call connection times. VoLTE capabilities allow triple zero calls in Australia to travel over 4G. 

While the majority of 4G and 5G mobile phones purchased in Australia support VoLTE capability, there are some refurbished devices or those from old surplus stock that do not. These devices rely on 3G to call emergency services and triple zero even though they support 4G or 5G data. As they do not support VoLTE, they will not be able to make emergency calls once the 3G network is switched off. 


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Connecting to triple zero

If your employees are using phones that are 2019 or newer (less than four years old), the phones should support the VoLTE emergency calling standard, provided you bought it from a reputable Australian retailer. But if your staff are among the more than one million people using older 4G devices, then VoLTE may be an issue so it’s important to check. As a starting point, refer to the device manual or contact the manufacturer to determine whether your specific device supports VoLTE emergency calling.

In terms of the devices that may be at risk, the ABC has also published a list of the 25 most common devices that could be affected by the 3G shutdown and Telstra has also published some helpful content on the 3G shutdown and checking mobile devices for VoLTE capabilities. Telstra has also launched a device checker tool for customers to help them determine whether their device will be affected. Concerned customers simply need to SMS 3 to 3498.


Not just smartphones

By way of a reminder, it’s not just mobile phones that are impacted by the 3G shutdown. Healthcare, utilities, agriculture, and emergency services providers are all major users of 3G-enabled devices, while security systems, medical alarms, farming equipment like water monitors, EFTPOS machines, and even telematics in cars all rely on the 3G network for transmitting and receiving data and will be impacted by the 3G shutdown. 

If you are concerned you have a gap to fill with the 3G closure and want to prevent business disruption, get in touch with the team at imei. Our team of certified and trained experts can help you take stock of the 3G-only devices in your network and help you select the most suitable network technology for your ongoing business requirements to maximise reliable connectivity. imei is an accredited Telstra 5G Partner and Certified Cradlepoint partner for 5G. 

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Topics: Connectivity Network 5G