​Singapore begins final countdown to 2G network shutdown

Some 123,00 subscribers in the country still on 2G networks will need to migrate from April 1, with shutdown of such services slated to complete by April 18.

Singapore will begin a phased shutdown of 2G services from April 1, when 123,000 subscribers in the country still using such devices will need to switch to 3G or 4G smartphones.

The three local operators--M1, StarHub, and Singtel--would begin shutting down their 2G networks "in stages" from April 1, according to a joint statement released Monday by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the telcos.

The network shutdown would be completed by April 18, marking the end of 2G services that were introduced in 1994 and migration campaigns that began in 2015 when IMDA announced plans to retire the network.

As of February 2017, some 123,000 subscribers in the country still were using 2G services, including post and prepaid users. This number was 191,300 in the same month last year, before dropping to 132,300 in December 2016.

All three telcos said the cessation of 2G networks were necessary to free up spectrum that could be redeployed to deliver faster and improved 3G and 4G services.

2G subscribers who had yet to migrate after April 18 would remain on their respective telco's monthly mobile plan, but would need to own a 3G or 4G smartphone in order to make voice calls, send SMS, or access other data services. No additional cost would be required to access such services.

To help the less tech-savvy with the transition, IMDA said, smartphone courses were available for participants aged 50 and above at selected Silver Infocomm Junctions, where they would be guided on how to use such devices.

Local telcos also offered handset models priced below S$50 to encourage users to switch. StarHub, for instance, said it would make contact with its existing 2G customers, including businesses, to urge them to upgrade before the network shutdown.

M1 and StarHub said they were unable to provide a breakdown of their subscriber base.

According to IMDA's stats, there were more than 3.41 million 3G subscribers in Singapore as of December 2016 and almost 4.86 million 4G subscribers, including prepaid and postpaid customers.

Operators in other nations including Australia and US also had made plans to shut down 2G services, including AT&T and Telstra.

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