Telstra recently announced that our 3G service, which you might also know as NextG, will be switched off in June 2024. This may sound dramatic for those of you accustomed to seeing the familiar ‘3G’ symbol on your mobile phone. But it is actually good news for rural Australians.
Between now and 2024, most customers will notice an improvement in connectivity as we upgrade and expand our 4G coverage to a materially-equivalent size and reach to our 3G footprint.
But it’s not just about moving to 4G. The closure of 3G will also provide a path for the introduction of 5G in more regional and rural areas.
Just as in 2016 when we switched off our 2G to give our 4G a boost, closing 3G frees up ‘spectrum’ for future 5G technology in many areas that would be difficult to reach without the low-band spectrum that 3G currently uses.
Telstra’s own 3G technology was switched on in 2006 and has served Australians well ever since. We are letting our regional customers know about the end of 3G well ahead of time and will help people who are affected so their shift to 4G and 5G is as smooth as possible. To stay connected, following the 2024 closure of 3G, customers will at least need a 4G device enabled with 4G voice capability. This describes most devices sold by Telstra.
Telstra is committed to providing improved mobile coverage to regional and remote Australia. Over the five years to June 2019 our total mobile network investment was about $8 billion, of which almost $3 billion was invested in regional areas.
We are continuing to expand our existing coverage footprint with our rollout under the Federal Government’s Mobile Blackspot Program (MBSP).
After the fourth round of the program is completed, Telstra will have invested over $280 million and built more than 780 new sites to improve coverage for regional and rural areas around the country. In addition to our MBSP work, Telstra has delivered over 200 small cells in selected areas where appropriate infrastructure is available. This has brought high-speed 4G data services to many small country towns.
All MBSP base station infrastructure is ‘future proofed’ to account for the 2024 closure. This means that each site built and approved to date has 4G included and 4G coverage will continue to operate in these areas even after 3G is switched off.