Australian operator Optus revealed plans to shut down its 2G network “from 1 April 2017,” stating that “2G now constitutes a fraction of our total mobile network traffic and is declining significantly year-on-year”.
The company’s stance reflects that of its parent, Singtel, which, along with its peers, intends dropping 2G services from the same date. It said that following the closure, it has options to “re-allocate some of the spectrum to improve customer experience and mobile services”.
But there have been contrasting comments from some operators, who see 2G living on for some time, in order to support voice services and low-bandwidth (and legacy) M2M applications. Telenor, for example, has said it will close its 3G networks ahead of 2G, although in both cases it is looking at a longer timeframe (post-2020).
And a number of operators at LTE World Summit earlier this year also mooted that 2G may outlive 3G, with 2G networks being maintained and modernised alongside deployments of newer technology.
Optus opened its 2G network in 1993, to provide voice and messaging services – and subsequently supporting low-speed mobile data.
“Greater smartphone usage and advances in 4G technology are driving customer preferences for more mobile data and faster speeds, and there has been a steady decline in 2G traffic and customers in the last few years,” said Dennis Wong, acting MD of Optus Networks.