End of 2G and 3G networks: everything you need to know

When will the 2G and 3G networks close?

In March 2022, the Orange network (among the French leaders) had announced the end of 2G coverage for 2026 and the end of 3G coverage for 2028.

For Orange as for all mobile operators, 2G and 3G have had their day! More than 20 years old, they have been overtaken by 4G and even 5G which bring more performance.

On a global scale, it was the American operator AT&T that was the first to end the 3G network in the US and the other market players were quick to follow suit. In just a few months, four of them had abandoned 3G!

We simplify and save money!

Older generations of telecoms are freeing up bandwidth for newer generations to limit our resource requirements and ensure better service to users.

According to the GSMA, an association that brings together most of the international operators, in 2023 2G and 3G will already account for only 21% of connections and by 2025, only 5% of users should still be on 3G. The second generation network will no longer exist.

“These technologies are coming to an end!”
confided Jean-Christophe Ravaux, Bouygues Telecom’s BtoB Market Director for a technological media, in 2022.

planet Earth in a man's hand on a gradient background

Indeed, by observing the degree of coverage of each network and by operator, we quickly understand that 4G is the network that covers more than 99% of the population connection and on average 93% of the French territory.

The closure of the second and third generation networks is therefore inevitable in order to continue to evolve to provide a better service and more features.

Is there a link with the rise in energy prices?

We know that our resources are limited, the telecom and IoT (Internet Of Things) industry is one of the players with a role to play in reducing the carbon footprint of communications and connected devices. Progress requires time and a lot of investment, but everyone is aware of the stakes. The costs are real too.

In 2022 and 2023, geopolitical events have only heightened the fear and deployment of solutions to alleviate the resource problem in our society. It is the responsibility of each ecosystem and each company. An investment that will prove useful and profitable in controlling costs and environmental impact.

planet Earth in a man's hand on a gradient background

The advantages and disadvantages of this development

The 2G uses frequency bands 900 and 1800 MHz, the 3G, 900 and 2100 MHz. With their abandonment, a significant amount of available space will be allocated to 4G and 5G (or even 6G) networks. If some of these bands allow a connection to the network in a usually “complex” area (such as in a building) and on a wide open field, their throughput is far too low to meet the expectations of recent devices and instant communication needs.

The disadvantage that could be attributed to 4G would be the adaptability but in 2023, the majority of devices are compatible with the 4G network, especially in the BtoB with connected devices for all types of industries.

The end of the road for mobile network operators?

The GSA is an international association of the mobile ecosystem. By 2022, it has identified nearly 80 operators in more than 40 countries that have stopped or are planning to stop 3G operations.

“This trend is part of a global migration to 4G and 5G […]”.

In France, it is the Arcep (French regulatory authority for electronic communications, posts and press distribution) that has decided and announced the intention to stop the old technologies, in order to reduce the impact of these lines on the networks.

SFR warned that by 2023, the focus would be on 5G and that by 2028, 2G and 3G will no longer exist. The operator is also pursuing an alliance strategy with equipment manufacturer Nokia for the deployment of its 5G network in France.

This partnership is part of a new era, one of collaboration and shared efforts. Nokia provides SFR with the know-how to deploy its 5G cloud core network. A good example of a technological ecosystem in the highly competitive telecommunications sector.

image of mobile network infrastructures

Europe is leading this change with 63% of 2G and 3G networks already out of service!

In France, Belgium, Spain and throughout Europe, operators have announced their plans to phase out 2G and 3G. Overall, by 2025, 2G will be definitively abandoned and by 2028, the same will happen with 3G.

2G and 3G network shutdown dates

The launch of 5G services

5G: what repercussions for connected objects?

Worldwide, there are more than 31 billion connected objects and this number is growing. However, adaptation to new technologies, whether for reasons of cost, quality or environmental impact, is inevitable and increasingly rapid.

Object manufacturers, publishers and designers of IoT solutions (such as Synox) are on the lookout and have already been testing 5G for several years to be ready when the time comes. “Agility is an indispensable quality in this environment” assured Emmanuel Mouton in an interview in 2022.

It is important to note that 5G was quickly coupled with 4G for operators who probably preferred to anticipate, the technology evolving faster and faster.

Will the networks stay in the race for more than 20 years as was the case with 2G and 3G? We can’t be sure. 🤔

By 2022, the number of 5G connected devices has increased by more than 50%!

And the reason this long-awaited topic has been addressed for several years, especially in 2023, is because the market is ready for 5G service offerings.

By early 2023, 78% of connected devices and objects are available with 5G. The pace of 3G phase-out will now only accelerate, especially with the massive decline in usage on the user side. A virtuous circle that will reinforce the need to free up bandwidth for 5G on the side of network operators.

Quote from Jérome Fenwick, CTO of Synox

Multi-operator SIM cards, often used for MtoM (Machine to Machine) have been available for several years.

Now they allow all devices connected to the cellular network to improve the reception and sending of data, between devices, via network gateways or towards third-party applications.

As a data management tool.

Cellular connectivity use cases for connected objects

  • GSM: only supports calls and SMS
  • 2G: allows the sending of MMS
  • 3G: introduces mobile internet use
  • 4G: enables broadband for mobile objects
  • 5G: particularly suitable for connected objects but very data-intensive

5G offers better opportunities for manufacturers

The ecosystem is ready and so are the users.

Moreover, if 4G has quickly won the hearts of individuals to allow them to access many more features and speed to use their smartphone, 5G and 6G offer great prospects for the technological future of different industries.

With these new generations, operators intend to reach the BtoB and propose a step further towards the presence of connected devices in all trades. At Synox, we are used to accompanying our clients in the realization but also in the evolution of their projects.

For example, when the PSTN was discontinued, we were able to guide them and provide them with the keys for a smooth transition. Read the article by our CTO Jérôme FENWICK on this subject.

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