3 UK revealed plans to turn off its 3G network at the end of 2024, as it looks to free up resources and ramp investment in its 4G and 5G offerings.

The UK operator stated it was turning off “the UK’s first 3G network”, which it launched on 3 March 2003. It claims it had been able to make the move after significant investments in 4G and 5G in recent years, including acquiring the nation’s largest 5G spectrum portfolio.

3 UK explained usage of 5G, in particular, had increased 358 per cent over the past 12 months, exceeding 3G “already”, and it would now look to make good on a more than £2 billion commitment to expand its next-generation deployment and improve its 4G experience.

Currently, 3 UK said it covers 99 per cent of the UK outdoor population with its combined 3G and 4G networks, carrying 28 per cent of mobile data traffic in the country.

However, it expects the trend of customers using 3G-only handsets to continue to decline, as faster 4G and 5G devices are introduced in the market.

CTO David Hennessy said “3G kick-started the mobile revolution” but the future is “undoubtedly 5G”.