Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has announced plans to begin switching off 3G services in the UK in 2025 as part of its network transformation efforts. According to VMO2, this move aims to enhance the customer experience by focusing on upgrading and expanding 4G and 5G networks while reducing energy consumption.
Virgin Media O2 3G Phase Out
Virgin Media O2 said it will gradually phase out 3G services across the UK by the end of 2025. This follows a joint statement from the government and industry in December 2021, which set a target for all UK mobile network operators to switch off 2G and 3G by 2033.
Reduced 3G Usage
Virgin Media O2 announced that the usage of 3G services has significantly declined in recent years, accounting for less than 4 percent of all data used on Virgin Media O2's network in the previous year.
The switch-off of 3G will allow the company to reallocate mobile spectrum to more efficient 4G and 5G services. This will result in faster data speeds, more reliable streaming, and higher-quality voice call services for customers.
Virgin Media O2 will help customers who may need additional support during the transition. This includes customers who still use older devices. The company said it will communicate with customers in advance, providing clear instructions and support options.
Virgin Media O2 will work closely with consumer groups and charities, such as the Good Things Foundation, to ensure a smooth transition for all customers, especially those from vulnerable groups.
Energy Efficiency Networks
According to the statement, 4G and 5G networks are significantly more energy-efficient than 3G. While 3G accounted for 11 percent of the company's total energy consumption, 4G and 5G, which together account for 96 percent of mobile network data traffic, are 10 times more efficient. VMO2 said this move aligns with the company's sustainability goals to reach net zero by 2040.
Virgin Media O2 is reported to offer 99 percent 4G coverage and intends to provide 5G services to over half of the UK population by the end of 2023. Additionally, the 2G network will continue to be available for calls and texts, in line with government targets, even after the 3G switch-off.