The company’s 2G networks may well outlive 3G, due to their compatibility with low-demand IoT applications

Vodafone has become the first mobile network operator in the UK to confirm that it will be switching off its existing 3G network, saying that spectrum could be more efficiently used if it was to be refarmed to offer 5G services.

In an interview with online news site Pocket Lint, Vodafone’s head of UK mobile networks, Andrea Dona, said that Vodafone would be looking to switch off its 3G network within a three-year window.

“In the medium term, we will be switching off 3G, because the use of the 3G band and what we get in return is not that efficient, so we can use some of the 3G spectrum bands for 5G. Then we don’t have to waste higher frequency, like the US are using the millimetre wave (mmWave)…we can use the low band which is more efficient.

“We don’t have a date. We’re working on a plan, next two to three years,” she added.

Dona said that Vodafone would keep using its 2G networks, however, particularly as it can be used for low demand Internet of Things applications, such as Smart Metres.

"2G will have a longer lifetime, a longer role to play, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things [like smart meters, for example] where you actually don’t need speed, you don’t need the capacity, you just need it to be ticking away in the background with low power…it doesn’t make economic sense to go out and change these devices,” she said.

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