One New Zealand (NZ) delayed a planned shutdown of its 3G network by seven months to give customers more time to transition to its 4G and 5G infrastructure, deployments of which it stated are progressing at pace.

The operator pushed the 3G closure from 31 August this year to 31 March 2025. At the same time, it detailed a plan to end its 2G network at the end of 2025, again due to the growing availability of 4G and 5G options.

CTO Tony Baird stated One NZ had “built and upgraded” more than 500 4G and 5G sites over the past 18 months, “with plans for hundreds more in 2024”.

The executive noted many operators globally are also in the throes of 3G shutdowns, meaning One NZ’s customers would already require the latest handsets to access “4G voice and data” when travelling.

But One NZ also acknowledged some customers require “a little more time to make the switch from their old phones which rely on 3G” for voice and data, and for “our IoT customers to swap out devices like old in-vehicle modems”, Baird said.

The CTO noted 2G was “switched on in 1993” and traffic had now dropped to a level where it was “no longer economically or environmentally viable” to operate the network.

According to Q1 2024 GSMA Intelligence numbers, the operator has just 65,000 2G connections live and 69,000 3G connections.

The operator is the second largest in New Zealand, with 2.57 million total mobile connections (a 37 per cent market share, behind leader Spark).

One NZ pointed to plans to add satellite coverage to its 4G and 5G options from the end of this year with the launch of a messaging service, “followed by voice and data in 2025”.

Baird suggested One NZ customers with 2G or 3G phones should look into recycling options and said the operator would contact users “to help them with the process” of switching to 4G or 5G connections.