Optus has today announced that it will follow Telstra and cease its 2G services from April 2017 as consumers are now increasingly using more data and are opting for the latest 4G smartphones.
The move to shut the 2G (GSM) service will allow Optus to re-allocate some of this spectrum to improve customer experience and mobile services, with the 2G spectrum expected to become part of a new and improved 4G service in regional areas.
The Optus 2G GSM network was launched in 1993, providing basic voice and text messaging services and since then it has also introduced basic data services such as text-based sports results and stock prices which have then seen the service grow alongside 3G and 4G services.
Dennis Wong, Acting Managing Director, Optus Networks said:
“Greater smartphone usage and advances in 4G technology are driving customer preferences for more mobile data and faster speeds and there has been a steady decline in 2G traffic and customers in the last few years.” with Wong continuing to say that “2G now constitutes a fraction of our total mobile network traffic and is declining significantly year on year. Mobile service providers globally, including in Australia and our parent company Singtel in Singapore, are closing down 2G networks to support newer technologies.”
Optus has also said that Virgin Mobile and Optus Wholesale service providers using the 2G GSM network, such as Amaysim and iiNet to name a couple, will also be affected in the shutdown. Users who may still have and only use 2G mobile phone will also need to look at upgrading their handsets to 3G or 4G mobile phones and plans.
Mr Wong has said that “Our priority is to prepare our customers for this change and ensure they have sufficient time to upgrade to newer devices. Optus will provide affected customers with more details about options available to them closer to the closure of our 2G network in April 2017. For some customers this might be a simple SIM upgrade,”
Users can check if their handset is a 2G mobile phone by looking for a 2G, GPRS, EDGE or E icon at the top of their mobile screen. If the mobile device is a 2G handset, you can easily upgrade to a new 3G or 4G handset by heading into your local retailer or heading online.
With the massive uptake of data hungry smartphones, where do you believe the impact of the 2G shut down will be felt most?