KDDI detailed plans to shut its 3G network by end-March 2022 to free up spectrum for other services, making it the last big player in Japan to set a termination date.

In a translated statement, the operator explained widespread uptake of 5G and LTE services meant CDMA 1x subscribers recently decreased.

KDDI launched the 3G service in 2003.

GSMA Intelligence data showed KDDI had 1.5 million 3G subscribers at end-September, with 75.4 million 4G and 7.3 million 5G.

Existing 3G subscribers need to shift to 4G- or 5G-compatible handsets, with six models offered for a free exchange. Customers who don’t upgrade by 31 March, will have their contracts suspended, with no cancellation fees.

SoftBank Corp is working to a January 2024 deadline to close its 3G network, with NTT Docomo targeting early 2026.