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Telstra, Vodafone to shut down joint 3G network in 31 days

Telstra and 3 Mobile customers on the joint 3GIS network will have until the end of August to switch over to a new service.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Telstra and Vodafone will cease operations next month on their joint 3G mobile network launched back in 2004, and have advised customers to get ready for the switch.

Both Telstra and Vodafone have previously said that the network, which operates in the 2100MHz spectrum, would come to an end in August, but today the company set the end date of 31 August.

When the network is shut off, customers with devices that used the network will still have access to the 2G network, but will need to upgrade to an 850MHz-compatible device to access Telstra's 3G network.

Telstra has not sold a device that uses this network since 2007, except for a limited run of LG phone watches.

The telco would not disclose how many customers will be affected by the change, except to say that it will be a "very small fraction".

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) CEO Bill Morrow said last week that 3 Mobile customers are progressively being migrated across to the Vodafone network, and that the migration will ramp up from this week until the network is shut down.

When Vodafone and Hutchison merged their Australian operations in 2009, 3 Mobile had approximately 2 million customers to bring to Vodafone's 3.97 million. It is not clear at this point how many customers are still on the 3 network; however, Vodafone's total customer base has recently declined from a high of 7.5 million in 2010 to 6.8 million today, with speculation that many of the customers leaving are former 3 Mobile customers coming off contracts.

Vodafone will replace the existing gear in the base stations for this network with new equipment as part of the company's overall revamp, while Telstra has committed to re-farming its share of the 2100MHz spectrum to supplement the 850MHz 3G network.

Morrow said that Vodafone is still evaluating the value of the 3 Mobile brand before making a decision on whether to retire it permanently.

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