Switching off 3G

Learn how saying goodbye to 3G affects you

Casey avatar
Written by Casey
Updated over a week ago

SMARTY is powered by Three, who announced they’re switching off 3G by the end of 2024. This means, better quality 4G and 5G service for all, at no extra cost.

If you have a:

  • 3G-only device, or a

  • 4G device that doesn’t have the capability to make calls over 4G (also known as VoLTE) you’ll need to upgrade to a 4G VoLTE compatible device to continue using our network.

We know that all the G’s can be confusing, so we’ve listed some FAQs you may find handy below.


When is 3G being switched off? 📅

We’ll gradually phase out 3G over the next two years before retiring entirely by the end of 2024.

Why are Three switching off their 3G network?

In December 2021, the UK government announced that 2G and 3G will be phased out by 2033. Since then, some of our competitors have already announced plans to switch off 3G networks.

Aside from the government guidance to sunset 2G and 3G spectrum by 2033, 4G and 5G are newer, faster, and more efficient technologies, so switching off 3G allows us to focus our investments and spectrum resources which will benefit our customers.

I'm in a 3G-only area right now or have a 3G-only device, what should I do? 🏡

When 3G is switched off in your area, you will need a 4G VoLTE-compatible device to continue to make calls, texts and use data.

If we think you do not have a 4G-VoLTE compatible device, we will contact you a minimum of 30 days before the 3G switch-off date in your area, so you will have plenty of time to find a suitable replacement.

If 4G or 5G hasn't arrived in your area yet, our network rollout is in process so, please check back for the latest updates here.

How can I check if my device is 4G-VoLTE compatible? 🔍

What is VoLTE and why do I need a VoLTE-compatible device?

Let's break it down 👇

Vo = Voice

LTE = Technical term for 4G

Put together they form VoLTE which means voice calls over 4G. If a device isn't VoLTE compatible, it'll drop to 3G to carry the call.

VoLTE provides a better quality of voice call.

You’ll need a VoLTE-compatible device to enable you to continue to make calls, texts and use data over the 4G network.

Some devices are 4G, but do not have VoLTE capability, meaning you'll need to upgrade to a VoLTE-compatible device to connect to the 4G VoLTE spectrum when 3G is turned off in your area.

This sounds very techy! So in short, your device will no longer have the connection that is required to continue using the network and you’ll benefit from a better connection on a 4G VoLTE compatible device.

My device isn't VoLTE enabled, what do I need to do? 💭

If your current device is not 4G VoLTE-compatible, you’ll need to upgrade to one that has the ability to continue using our network.

If we think you don’t have a 4G VoLTE-compatible device, we’ll contact you in advance before the 3G switch-off happens in your area so that you have plenty of time to find a replacement.

I can't afford to upgrade right now, what should I do?

We understand that making a purchase of a new device isn't always an option, however, to make this process as easy as possible, we'll be in touch to give you advanced notice when 3G is due to be switched off in your area and we believe you are impacted as a result of your device functionality.

If you have already received communication that your area will be impacted and still decide not to upgrade, you can still use your handset in other 3G areas but will not be able to continue your service in areas where 3G is turned off. After 2024, your device will no longer be supported.

There are many ways to sustainably upgrade your device, for example, SMARTY is partnered with reboxed©, where you can benefit from exclusive SMARTY customer discounts on a refurbished phone.

Our friends at Three also offer device and airtime bundles and are giving SMARTY customers up to 20% off selected 24-month Airtime plans when you sign up to pay for your new phone with Three over 12, 24 or 36 months at 0% APR. Shop here.

You can buy low-cost, SIM-free 4G-VoLTE devices at most online and high-street tech retailers, just remember it needs to be unlocked.

What will happen if I don't move to a compatible device?

We won’t support any device that only relies on 3G for data, calls or texts after 2024, so you won’t be able to get connected.

Why can't I stay on 3G?

On 8 December 2021, the Government announced that all public 2G and 3G networks will be switched off by 2033 at the latest. However, it encouraged operators to switch off their networks, particularly 3G networks, earlier than this date.

The device I have is suitable for my accessibility needs, what should I do?

We understand how important your device is for your needs. If your current device isn’t 4G VoLTE compatible, we’ll be happy to discuss devices that could suit your needs. Our dedicated Accessibility Team are on hand to help with any specific queries you might have.

If I change my phone, will I need a new SIM? 📏

Our SIMs are sent as a trio, so you can pop out the size you need. Most new devices take Nano SIMs. See here for more info on SIM sizing.

I use my SIM in a broadband device, does this impact me?

If you have a 3G data-only Mobile Broadband device, it won’t be supported after 2024. So we recommend that you consider upgrading your device.

Got more questions?

If you have any further questions regarding the switch off of our 3G network, we're here to help. Our web-chat team are available from 8am-8pm 7 days a week.

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