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3G Shutdown in the UK: What to Do If You Use a 3G Signal Booster

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As the dawn of 3G technology fades into twilight, it leaves several questions hanging in the digital ether. How will this 3G switch-off in the UK impact consumers? Particularly, what about those reliant on 3G signal boosters? This guide explores the reasons behind the switch-off, how it might affect you, and what steps you can take if you use a 3G signal booster.

3G Network Shutdowns in the UK: Is It True and When Will it Happen?

The 3G shutdown in the UK is indeed happening. The UK's mobile service providers have decided to discontinue their 3G networks. The initiative stems from a broader push toward optimising digital infrastructure. Mobile providers in the UK are gradually phasing out older, less efficient technology as part of this modernisation effort. This move allows them to utilise the available spectrum more effectively, ensuring consumers benefit from advanced services provided by 4G and 5G networks.

4G and 5G technology have significantly outpaced 3G in data transfer speeds and reliability, leading to an enhanced user experience, especially for services requiring high-speed data transfer, such as video streaming, gaming, and more. Thus, deciding to decommission 3G services makes practical sense from a future-forward perspective.

Which Providers will Switch off the 3G Network?

The UK's primary mobile providers have each set their timeline for the 3G network switch-off. Here’s a schedule for when 3G will be shut down in the UK:

  • Vodafone. The switch-off process began early this year.
  • EE. The company plans to begin its switch-off in early 2024.
  • Three. The provider expects to complete its switch-off by 2024.
  • O2. As of now, O2 has not announced any plans for a switch-off.

It's important to note that other mobile companies operate using these primary networks. For instance, providers like Lebara Mobile, BT Mobile, or iD Mobile utilise these major networks, meaning their 3G switch-off timings will align with their primary network.

Who is Affected by the 3G Network Shutdown?

The phasing out of 3G networks carries far-reaching implications, extending beyond just mobile phone users. Here's an overview of those directly affected by this transition:

Users of Older Mobile Devices 

Individuals using older mobile phones or devices supporting only 3G will be most affected. After providers switch off the 3G networks in the UK, these devices will no longer be able to access mobile data services, rendering them considerably less useful. Users must upgrade to 4G or 5G compatible devices to stay connected.

Users of Certain Medical Devices

Some medical devices, such as care alarms and personal emergency response systems (PERS), use the 3G network for communication. Once the 3G networks are switched off, these devices may stop functioning as intended unless upgraded or replaced with models supporting 4G or 5G connectivity.

Vehicle Owners 

Many modern vehicles come equipped with automatic crash notification systems that use 3G networks for connectivity. Post-3G shutdown, these systems may lose their ability to alert emergency services in case of an accident automatically. Vehicle owners must check with their manufacturers for possible solutions or updates.


Several home security systems and smart devices rely on 3G networks. For instance, some home alarm systems, payment terminals, or smart thermostats may stop working correctly after the 3G network switch-off in the UK.

Rural and Remote-Area Residents 

The effects of the 3G shutdown may be felt more profoundly by residents of rural and tribal areas. These communities often rely on 3G networks due to limited 4G and 5G coverage. As 3G is phased out, they might face significant communication challenges unless 4G or 5G coverage expands in their location.

To sum up, the 3G network shutdown in the UK will affect a diverse range of people and services. Communication might become challenging for those dependent on 3G, especially if unprepared for the transition. All potentially affected parties must contact their service providers or device manufacturers for appropriate guidance and solutions.

What if You are Using a 3G Signal Booster?

3G signal boosters have been a crucial tool for many to enhance network connectivity. However, as providers switch off the 3G networks, users of these devices need to take specific steps to ensure they stay connected. 

Here's what you can do if you're currently using a 3G signal booster:

Determine which of your devices still use 3G 

These can include various devices, from mobile phones and tablets to IoT devices and specific medical and security systems. Knowing the extent of your dependence on 3G will help you plan your transition more efficiently.

Update the device software where possible 

For some devices, particularly smartphones and tablets, it may be possible to update the software or change the settings to enable them to use 4G or 5G networks. Often, your device manufacturer or service provider can guide you through this process, and in some cases, they may push automatic updates to enable this transition.

Replace the remaining devices with ones that support 4G and 5G 

Unfortunately, not all devices will be upgradable. In such cases, you'll need to replace these devices with ones that support 4G or 5G connectivity. While this may entail an initial investment, ensuring uninterrupted service is necessary and beneficial in the long run. It's also an opportunity to upgrade to devices with better features and functionality.

Contact your mobile operator to change your tariff plan

This change will ensure you're getting the most out of the 4G or 5G services that your devices now support. It's also a good opportunity to evaluate your data needs and choose a plan that fits them best.

The 3G network switch-off could potentially disrupt operations for businesses that rely heavily on 3G connectivity. To avoid this, companies should perform a comprehensive audit to identify all areas of their operations that use 3G networks. This assessment should include all devices, equipment, and systems dependent on 3G.

Businesses can create a detailed transition plan once they've mapped out their 3G dependence. Implementing this plan well before the 3G switch-off will help businesses avoid disruptions and continue operating smoothly.

Contact UCtel to Avoid Problems with the 3G Network Shutdown

Transitioning from 3G to 4G or 5G can be complex for individuals and businesses. This is where UCtel steps in. Our experts are well-versed in all aspects of the transition, ensuring you're never left unsupported in this evolving digital landscape.

Once you've upgraded your devices to 4G or 5G, UCtel can provide an enhanced network experience through our 4G boosting services. Poor network coverage or slow internet speeds can be a thing of the past, as UCtel's boosters ensure your devices consistently receive high-speed, reliable 4G connectivity.

But the advantages of partnering with UCtel extend far beyond the 4G transition. UCtel delivers exceptional customer service, offering expert advice and technical support to address any issues that may arise. So whether you're seeking to enhance your home network experience or are a business owner looking to maintain seamless operations after mobile providers will switch off 3G networks in the UK, UCtel is your ideal partner.


The 3G network shutdown in the UK signals the evolution of mobile technology. It highlights the necessity to adapt and upgrade. While this transition affects a range of services and devices, it's an opportunity to leverage faster and more reliable networks with the right preparation. The key is to stay informed, identify the areas of your life or business that rely on 3G networks, and act accordingly. Contacting device manufacturers and service providers and switching to newer devices are all steps you can take now. 


Find answer below or contact us to ask more about UCtel

Will I be affected by the 3G shutdown?

It depends on your device usage. You will be affected if you use a device that only supports 3G or a service that relies on 3G connectivity, such as some medical or security systems. However, if your devices are 4G or 5G compatible, you'll likely only need a software or settings update.

Can a 3G phone be upgraded to 4G?

Upgrading a 3G phone to 4G usually isn't feasible as it involves hardware changes. However, some 3G phones also support 4G. It's best to check your phone's capabilities or contact your service provider for accurate information.

Will my phone work after the 3G shutdown in the UK?

If your phone only supports 3G, its data services will stop working after the 3G shutdown. However, calling and texting services might still function over 2G, except for the Three network, which doesn't support 2G. If your phone is 4G or 5G compatible, it will continue to work after a potential software or settings update.

How long will I be able to use 3G phones?

The exact timeline depends on when your provider will switch off 3G networks. In the UK, the shutdown process has already started and is set to complete by 2024. After this, 3G services will cease, rendering 3G-only phones unable to access mobile data services.

Contact the team to discover how UCtel can improve your digital connectivity and communications.

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