Urgent warning to 2.7 million mobile users ahead of major change to networks

Nearly 3 million mobile phone users are being warned they could be forced to upgrade their device in the coming months.

Many of the UK’s largest mobile providers are in the process of shutting down their 3G networks, with the switch off happening for many this year.

3G networks were launched in 2003 and can be used to send texts, deliver calls, and provide low speed data services.

Mobile providers are switching off the 3G networks in order to make more room for 4G and 5G networks, providing customers with more reliable and faster services.

Oxford Mail: The 3G switch off will impact Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile, who use the O2 network, and iD Mobile and Smarty who use the Three network

The 3G switch off will impact Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile, who use the O2 network, and iD Mobile and Smarty who use the Three network (Image: PA)

USwitch have warned 2.7 million people could be left without access to mobile data if they do not upgrade their device or follow the steps advised by their provider.

Over the coming months, providers will be getting in touch with customers across the country who may be affected to let them know their options.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, commented: “The 3G switch off will ultimately free up the ‘network spectrum’ for 4G and 5G – an important way to ensure our networks can cope with increasing demand as our digital lives continue to grow .

“While for the vast majority of phone users, this isn’t something to worry about – it’s important to be aware this change is coming, especially for those concerned about older relatives who may rely on older handsets.

“Check your device settings and make sure your phone is 4G or 5G ready. If you’re already using a 4G or 5G handset – you may still need to ensure you have the latest software and security updates to make sure you’re using the correct network.

“It’s also worth checking in with any friends and family members who might have older devices. It might be time for an upgrade – and there’s plenty of support available for those getting set up with a new handset.

“Ultimately, these changes will help us to move towards a faster and more reliable service, but in the meantime, it’s important to make sure no one is left behind.”

All the main network operators – Vodafone, EE, Three and Virgin Media O2 – are taking steps to make sure consumers won’t be impacted, including special helplines and support for vulnerable customers.

This is when your mobile network could be changing.


Vodafone has already switched off its 3G network in several locations across the UK and its final phase took place in January/February 2024. If you’re registered as a vulnerable customer and need extra support, you can call Vodafone’s dedicated team free on 191


EE began switching off its 3G network from January 2024. EE is sharing simple tips to get ready for the 3G switch-off on its website. Customers can visit their local EE store or call 150 to speak to an advisor who’ll be able to help.


Three aims to switch off its 3G network by the end of 2024. If your phone isn’t 4G calling compatible, you can have a chat with Three’s Accessibility team.

Virgin Media O2

Virgin Media O2 has confirmed that it will begin switching off 3G services in 2025, so nothing will change for customers yet.

A Virgin Media O2 spokesperson said: “Use of 3G services has fallen significantly, accounting for less than 4% of data use on our network last year. By starting to switch off 3G next year, we can reallocate mobile spectrum to more efficient 4G and 5G services, bringing customers faster data speeds, more reliable streaming and higher-quality voice call services.

“Our priority is to keep our customers connected and the vast majority will not be impacted or have to take any action as we deliver these upgrades.

“We are committed to providing additional support to those who need it and we’ll be contacting our customers directly ahead of any changes taking place.”



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