Telefonica Deutschland detailed plans for a large-scale shutdown of its 3G network beginning next month, making it the last operator in Germany to discontinue the legacy technology in favour of 4G and 5G.

In November 2020 the company said it planned to close the network by the end of 2021, a year ahead of its initial schedule. It has 16,000 3G sites, which will be shut in phases.

Although Telefonica is sticking with end-December as the final date for 3G, it noted 1 July would be the start of the “large-scale shutdown of the ageing network”, more than 20 years after launch.

“This technology is now getting on in years, so we will replace it by the end of the year,” CEO Markus Haas said. “The future of digital networking for business and consumers will then belong solely to 4G and, above all, 5G.”

Telefonica has a number of device upgrade offers available for users of the expiring technology and also offers a free SIM swap to a 4G version.

The timeline will likely make it the final operator in Germany to make the move.

Rival Deutsche Telecom is on track to close its 3G network by the end of this month, with Vodafone Germany also targeting end-December.