Telstra, the Australian telecom provider, has reiterated its plans to close down its 3G network, also known as the Telstra Next G network, on 30 June 2024. The closure will help the company repurpose the 3G spectrum towards strengthening its 4G and 5G mobile infrastructure, enhancing coverage, and improving network reliability.
This information comes straight from Sri Amirthalingam, Telstra's Commercial Engineering Executive, who recently shared some crucial insights on the future of their network services.
The 3G network was launched back in 2003 when mobile devices were predominantly used for calls, texting and accessing basic information online. Fast forward 20 years, the modern-day mobile experience is significantly data-driven, with the demand for mobile data growing by approximately 30% each year.
Sri Amirthalingam emphasises the need for a network that aligns with current and future technological advancements. To achieve this, the company is consistently upgrading its mobile network technology, transitioning from 3G to 4G and now to 5G. Additionally, Amirthalingam confirms the company's intention to continue evolving, with plans for a future upgrade to 6G technology.
Sri Amirthalingam said, "As our technology and our use cases change, we need a network that's fit for today and for the future. That's why we continue to upgrade the technology that underpins our mobile network from 3G to 4G, and now 5G, and in future, we will do so again for 6G."
He further confirmed that following the closure of the 3G network, the company plans to repurpose the radio spectrum previously used by the 3G network to expand the capacity and reach of its 5G network.
The planned closure of the 3G network was initially announced to the customers back in October 2019 to allow ample time for understanding what changes they need to make.
Sri furthermore assured that to guarantee 4G coverage equivalence in regions depending on the 3G network, Telstra has been accelerating its 4G rollout and adjustments to match the 3G coverage over the past few years.
Sri Amirthalingam stated, "This work includes upgrading all existing 3G sites with 4G technology, adding new 4G sites and optimising others to create equivalent 4G coverage in areas where 3G only coverage exists today."
Sri Amirthalingam also cautioned that mobile coverage can be impacted by various environmental factors, including topographic details, device sensitivity, and the manner in which the device is used, among others.
Notably, the phased 3G closure plan goes hand-in-hand with the global trend of telecom providers prioritising enhanced, data-bearing networks in response to the ever-increasing consumer appetite for data-heavy tasks. Following the 3G shutdown, customers relying solely on that network would need to upgrade their devices to support the newer 4G or 5G networks to ensure a seamless mobile experience.