Frequently asked questions about 3G closure

We’re switching off 3G from 30 June 2024. Find the answers to frequently asked questions here.

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    Common questions

    It's about providing a better experience for our customers.

    When we launched 3G in 2006, we used our mobile devices for calls, texting and accessing basic information online. Since then, technology and customer usage has significantly changed, and so too must our network. Traffic on our 3G network has declined significantly and continues to as we adopt newer and better technologies.

    Closing our 3G network allows us to repurpose spectrum to support our 5G rollout and open the door to more digital opportunities.

    If you have a device that’s only able to connect to 3G, you won’t be able to connect to Telstra’s network after 30 June 2024.

    If your mobile device doesn’t have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, even if it uses 4G, it will not be able to make voice calls on our network after 30 June 2024.

    If your device doesn’t support VoLTE emergency calling, you will not be able to make an emergency call to 000 on the Telstra Mobile Network.

    To continue using our network, you’ll need to upgrade the device to a 4G/5G VoLTE capable and compatible device before 30 June 2024. Doing so will ensure you can access Telstra’s network and will have both data access and voice calling compatibility.

    Find out more about VoLTE, including what it is, what devices are compatible, and how to check or enable VoLTE on your phone.

    Customers using 3G mobile, IoT and network extension devices, some EFTPOS machines, medical devices and antennas that operate on the 3G network only will be able to continue using their device or antenna until 30 June 2024. After this date, if the device has not been updated to be 4G or 5G compatible, it will no longer work.

    No, 3G-only mobile devices will not work on Telstra’s 4G network. Contact us for help with any concerns about changing devices or technology types.

    No, as we will no longer have 3G mobile coverage from 30th June 2024.

    Mobile devices have special roaming capabilities when calling Triple Zero (000). In instances where another carrier has 3G coverage, you may still be able to make a 000 call. However, it’s important to note that other carriers are likewise closing their 3G network in similar timeframes to Telstra.

    We strongly encourage all customers to ensure that they have a 4G/5G VoLTE capable and compatible device before 30th June 2024. We also have more information about enabling VoLTE (Voice over LTE) on your mobile phone.

    No, if you change to a 4G or 5G device and intend to use it in the same way as your current device, you shouldn’t need to change your plan.

    While it’s not quite as simple as flicking a switch, the closure will commence from 30 June 2024 and will happen relatively quickly. Customers need to be ready before 30 June to avoid disruption to services.

    It’s common for customers to upgrade their equipment every few years. We made a public announcement in October 2019 that we’d be closing our 3G service. We’ll continue to be there to help customers and ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

    We’re seeing a consistent, steady decline in the number of people using our 3G network. We launched our 4G service in 2011 and customers have progressively upgraded their devices to make use of the increased speeds and services available on this network. In May 2019 we also launched our 5G network which now covers more than 80 per cent of Australia’s population.

    Yes, both Vodafone and Optus have announced they’re closing their 3G networks in Australia. For more details, check with the relevant carrier.

    A number of global telcos have also announced plans to close, or have already closed, their 3G networks. This includes operators like AT&T and Verizon in North America and British Telecom in the UK.

    How to prepare

    Some 4G devices, particularly devices originally sourced from overseas markets, are not compatible with all of Telstra’s 4G frequencies. It’s important to make sure you select a device that is compatible with Telstra’s 4G/5G network. If you live in a regional or rural area, we recommend you select a Telstra Blue Tick device.

    If you use your device to make and receive voice calls, from 30 June 2024 it must support VoLTE, and have VoLTE enabled in the settings.

    Find out more about VoLTE, including what it is, what devices are compatible, and how to check or enable VoLTE on your phone.

    Voice over LTE (VoLTE) lets you make phone calls over our 4G (LTE) network. Your mobile device will use 4G to make and receive these calls in areas where 4G (LTE) is available. When our 3G network closes on 30 June 2024, VoLTE will be required to make or receive phone calls on the Telstra mobile network. It’s important to note that:

    • 3G phones do not have VoLTE; and
    • not all 4G phones have VoLTE and/or are compatible with the Telstra network.
       

    If you have a 3G mobile device, you must upgrade to a 4G/5G mobile device that is VoLTE capable and compatible prior to 30 June 2024.

    If you already have a 4G mobile device, we strongly recommend that you check that your device is VoLTE capable and compatible. Find out more about VoLTE.

    Anything that only connects to the Telstra 3G network will be affected by this closure. This includes:

    • Mobile phones
    • Tablets
    • Mobile Broadband modems
    • Smart watches and wearables
    • IoT and M2M devices
    • Repeaters and smart antennas
    • Medical alert devices
    • NextG Wireless Link

    Yes, however older generation wearables (typically 2019 or earlier) may experience limited or intermittent coverage. This is usually caused by the device not supporting the main frequency we use for our 4G coverage (700 MHz). This is less likely to be an issue for newer cellular-capable models. For more information, see devices and services affected – wearables.

    Some 4G mobile devices do not support “Voice over LTE” (VoLTE), so they still make voice calls on the 3G network and not the 4G network.

    To make voice calls on the Telstra 4G network, customers with 4G mobile devices that don’t support voice calling will need to upgrade to VoLTE-capable and compatible 4G or 5G devices before we close the 3G network on 30 June 2024.

    If a 4G non-VoLTE mobile device remains on our network after the closure of Telstra’s 3G network, it will still be able to use data, but it will not be able to make or receive voice calls, including Triple Zero (000) emergency calls. 

    All devices sold by Telstra today are 4G and Voice over LTE (VoLTE, or voice over 4G) capable and compatible, and will work on our network beyond 30 June 2024.

    There are several options available to help you recycle old mobiles, chargers, and accessories.

    • Drop them off at any Telstra store – just look for the “mobile muster” collection point. Go to MobileMuster to find your nearest collection point.
    • Mail your old device to mobile muster for recycling. Satchels are available from your local Australia Post office or JB Hi-Fi store.

    Moving to 4G and 5G

    Your network experience should improve, and in most cases you’ll notice a substantial improvement in speeds when you move from 3G-only coverage to 4G coverage. Our 4G service accesses greater bandwidth and is more efficient than 3G, leading to higher end-user speeds.

    The speed you experience is determined by a range of factors including how close you are to a tower, how much traffic the site is carrying, if there’s any obstructions impeding the network (i.e. buildings, hills, vegetation etc.) and what sort of device you’re using.

    In areas that currently only have a 3G signal, we’re committed to providing 4G coverage before the closure of the 3G network.

    We’ve been rapidly rolling out and adjusting our 4G and 5G networks over the past few years to ensure we have equivalent coverage available ahead of the 3G closure. 

    This involves upgrading all existing 3G sites with 4G technology, adding new 4G sites, and optimising others to create equivalent 4G coverage in areas that 3G coverage exists today. As we approach 3G closure, further changes in network software will also be made to optimise our existing 4G.

    To access the benefits of our 4G network, you need to be using compatible devices. This includes using appropriate devices for your requirements – for example, if currently using a Blue Tick 3G device you’ll need a Blue Tick 4G device, or if currently relying on a 3G T-Go or TMSA coverage extension device, you’ll need an equivalent 4G device to ensure equivalent coverage.

    Our 3G network will remain open until 30 June 2024.

    We’re committed to upgrading all 3G-only areas with equivalent 4G coverage. Our 5G coverage, like all new technologies, builds outwards from population centres over time - and is now at over 80% population coverage. In areas where there is no 5G, our 4G coverage meets the demand. Current coverage information can be found in our coverage and rollout maps.

    If you have a 4G or 5G mobile device, you’ll see the 4G symbol appear at the top right of the device if 4G is available in your location. You can check our coverage and rollout maps.

    We continue to deploy new 4G coverage and don’t have a closure date for our 4G network.  LTE-M and NB-IoT have been adopted into the 5G family of technologies, which allows our customers to embrace LTE-M and NB-IoT with confidence in the technology’s long-term future.

    Although our 3G network has typically had a larger footprint than that compared to 4G, that doesn’t mean 4G has lesser capabilities. In fact, we’ve limited the power of our 4G network to ensure some older devices, specifically those that used 4G for data but needed 3G to make voice calls, could always connect within our publicised coverage maps.

    As we approach our 3G closure, we’re gradually increasing the power of our 4G network to achieve coverage equivalent to 3G.

    Our 4G uses low band spectrum (700MHz) that has fantastic propagation capabilities, and as we approach the closure of our 3G network, we’ll be increasing 4G power and upgrading 3G-only sites so our 4G coverage reach is equivalent to that of our 3G (850MHz) coverage today.

    Our team has identified areas of unique 3G coverage, which we’ve committed to uplift with 4G before our 3G network closure.

    Once an area of unique 3G coverage is identified, we design a suitable solution and proceed to build or upgrade our mobile sites.

    When we complete the build or upgrade of a site, we then undertake further network optimisation work to deliver optimal coverage.

    We verify all site upgrades and coverage via detailed network data checks. The checks assess the signal levels of the site and the predicted coverage footprint as displayed on our coverage and rollout maps.

    If any checks highlight we haven’t achieved equivalent coverage, we’ll resolve it before 3G closure.

    No, this is a common misconception. Signal bars differ between technologies and mobile devices, therefore they are not a good indicator of coverage and performance. Almost every device is different when it comes to this as there are currently no standards uniformly shared across all manufacturers. Comparing bar readings between different devices could be like comparing apples to oranges.

    4G is a newer, more efficient technology which uses a different frequency to 3G, so it’s not a like for like comparison.

    Business and Enterprise customers

    Our 3G network includes some equipment which supplies in-building coverage. In many cases, our 4G network has already replicated the in-building coverage provided by this equipment. Where this is not the case, we plan to augment our 4G coverage. The exception is where customers have procured coverage-extension devices to augment indoor coverage, such as the T-Go or TMSA. To obtain equivalent 4G coverage, these devices need to be upgraded to 4G if they’re not already 4G-capable.

    Indoor coverage can be highly variable and there may be locations where indoor coverage is indicated on our coverage and rollout maps but the location, density and material of buildings and other physical structures may reduce performance.

    Things that may reduce or block indoor coverage include basements, lifts, underground car parks, concrete buildings, tunnels and road cuttings, steel framing and metallic window film. Devices such as the Telstra GO Repeater may help improve indoor coverage.

    If you’re using a 3G device and need help transitioning or finding a suitable replacement device, please don’t hesitate to ask a team member at a Telstra store or contact us and we’ll be happy to help. If you’re a Business customer, please contact your Telstra Business and Technology Centre. If you're an Enterprise customer, please contact your Telstra representative.

    Other affected services

    3G-only IoT devices will not work on Telstra’s 4G network. This includes some IoT and network extension devices that operate on the 3G network only, such as some EFTPOS machines and 3G only antennas.

    You’ll need to upgrade all 3G-only IoT devices. If you need help transitioning or finding a suitable replacement device, please don’t hesitate to ask at your local Telstra store, or contact us. If you’re a Business customer, please contact your Telstra Business and Technology Centre. If you’re an Enterprise customer, you can contact your Telstra representative.

    Some customers may have brought their own (BYO) device to use on the Telstra mobile network or bought IoT devices from a third-party supplier. In these cases, we’ll do our best to provide information on 4G or LTE-M/NB-IoT mobile technology for IoT use cases.

    If a device is 3G-only, the radio hardware is not upgradable to 4G. It most cases, the radio hardware is embedded in the device so the whole device will need to be replaced with one that supports 4G, 5G or LPWAN.

    Most typical IoT devices have a 4G LTE or LPWAN migration solution available now.

    We’re unable to comment on the timings for individual device manufacturers. We recommend you contact device manufacturers directly if you have questions about the availability of compatible replacement devices.

    All mobile base stations built under the first four rounds of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program have 3G and 4G coverage. The 4G network will continue to operate in these areas, even after we’ve closed the 3G network. We stopped including 3G in our proposals from Round 5 onwards, given our 2019 announcement about 3G closure.

    For Australians traveling overseas, International Roaming will continue to operate as it does today, as long as your device is compatible with the roaming partner’s network. People travelling to Australia will need a device compatible with our 4G network to connect with Telstra.

    Our 3G network operates on 850MHz spectrum.

    Our 4G network mainly operates on 700MHz spectrum. We also use 1800MHz, 900MHz, 2100MHz and/or 2600MHz spectrum in some locations.

    We’re currently using the 700MHz spectrum band for its LTE-M and NB-IoT network.

    Telstra 5G operates on 3.6GHz spectrum, supplemented with 850MHz and 26GHz mmWave in selected areas.

    By reallocating 3G 850MHz spectrum for our 5G network, we can provide 5G coverage to larger areas of regional Australia and better in-building coverage in metro areas. This is because 850MHz spectrum has better propagation characteristics, meaning it has better reach and penetrates further into buildings.

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