Vodafone has announced it will switch off 3G services in June, making it the first UK telecoms company to phase out the old generation signal.

According to Vodafone, the switch-off will free up 3G radio frequencies for more efficient 4G and 5G services.

UK mobile users are currently spread across four generations of technology, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and the current generation, 5G.

Vodafone’s announced 3G phase-out comes after an agreement from the UK government with mobile phone providers that 2G and 3G services would be completely gone by the end of  2033. 

uSwitch, the online and telecom comparison service, found that 30m Brits still rely on 3G and 15m are not aware that 3G is being phased out. 

“People still using 3G-enabled smartphones that cannot access the more modern networks will need to upgrade their handset soon or risk losing access to their mobile data altogether,” Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at, told Verdict.

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By GlobalData

The phase-out has been met with criticism from campaigners who believe it will further spread the gap in “digital poverty” and leave people with older phones without connectivity. 

The Digital Poverty Alliance claimed the switch-off will have “detrimental effects” on millions of people.

In a statement, the campaign organisation warned: “Older and basic devices do not have 4G capabilities, so individuals who can only get online using a basic device will fall into digital poverty.

“Switching off 3G will have an adverse effect on the mission to help more people access the digital world.”

Some experts have predicted that 6G will be in operation as early as 2030.

Research firm GlobalData states: “The most important thing to understand about 6G is that it is a generation of mobile networking technologies that the industry is anticipating in the future and working toward, but that, right now, is not yet defined.” 

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.