From the end of June, German network operators Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica / O2 will permanently shut down their 3G network. Thus, they want to create space for more modern mobile radio technologies with higher data throughput. However, the 3G shutdown not only paves the way for faster 5G expansion, but also creates disadvantages for some users. This applies not only to mobile phone users.
We have already discussed the background of 3G disconnection in an extensive article. In short, UMTS must give way to the further development of LTE and 5G. Introduced at the turn of the millennium and commercially available for the first time in 2004, 3G simply no longer allows the bandwidth required today. According to the mobile operator, only a few cell phone owners in Germany still use it. For example, Vodafone said that 3G only accounts for about 2.5% of mobile data traffic on the network.
In short, the end of UMTS has arrived, and for most users, the network outage should and will have positive consequences in the long term. But, as is often the case, there are exceptions. Some users still rely heavily on the 3G network – and not just cell phone users.
Disconnecting 3G makes old smartphones unusable
Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone want to spin off 3G at the end of June. O2 plans to close it before the end of the year. From now on, transmission over UMTS / 3G is not possible. All that’s left to use mobile internet is 4G / LTE and the new 5G standard. In the future, phone calls will only be possible using the old GSM (2G) or LTE (Voice over LTE – VoLTE) or 5G (Voice over 5G – Vo5G) standard.
But what if the devices don’t support LTE or 5G at all? Some are still in circulation – be it a cell phone in a drawer or a replacement device. First of all, smartphones that hit the market by the end of 2011 usually only transfer data via UMTS, not LTE. Internet-enabled cell phones also rely heavily on the old standard. It is these cell phones and smartphones that will fail no later than the end of 2021. You can still make calls and text messages using them, but you can no longer connect to the mobile Internet. All they have left is WiFi.
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There are still white spots in Germany
There are also those cell phone users who live in an area where LTE or 5G is not yet fully developed. And yes, there will be several more in Germany in 2021. If you look at network expansion cards at Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2, you will find blind spots with all three providers, that is, areas that do not have or are underdeveloped with mobile communications. This is often the case in more rural areas or higher places such as the Harz mountains or around the Alps. Those users who travel around the country from time to time will already see on their smartphone that the display has switched from LTE to 3G, because the LTE signal was obviously not strong enough. But if 3G is no longer available as an alternative technology, then you’re in trouble.
In all fairness, it must be said that expanding the mobile network in many of these regions is usually difficult. For example, it is especially difficult to guarantee coverage in mountainous areas because the difference in altitude affects the signal. And so in some affected areas even UMTS is not. Those regions that until now could rely at least on 3G will soon be looking for opportunities to do so.
Also Read: Differences Between LTE, 4G, and 5G
3G disconnection affected more than mobile phone users
Time and time again, we read about the planned 3G disconnection of cell phone users who may be affected. But there are also a number of devices that rely on UMTS but are not cell phones. Such as IoT deviceswhich are used in medicine, manufacturing and the military, as well as in elevator emergency call systems. Also Burglar alarm systems and other surveillance technology may be affected by turning off 3G. Many rely on UMTS to transfer data to a server or cloud. If providers disconnect the network, the devices become unusable.
IN EBookn with cellular communication can also have effects. They often have a UMTS module installed that users can use to download books or sync content on the go. For example, Amazon until 2018 relied exclusively on 3G for its mobile devices to read its Kindle e-books. When the network is off, the module can no longer be used.
Finally, there are some Car manufacturerwho rely on 3G for their systems and are therefore affected by network outages. Like some Agricultural machinerywhich are still connected via 3G for automation and networking. At best, you are left with 2G, which is unlikely to replace.
Buying a new one is often the best decision
Those users who have one of the mentioned devices must adapt. From mid-2021, you will only have two alternatives: ditch some of the functionality of the old device, or split up and buy a new model. In many cases, the latter is probably the more recommended option, as many pure UMTS-compatible devices usually last for years. This can be very expensive depending on the type of device.