Time for a new generation in the mobile network:
2G and 3G make way for 4G

Many network operators around the world have decided that they want to switch off the frequencies of the 2G and 3G networks. This paves the way for a faster mobile network. Find out why the shutdowns are happening now, what it means for you and when it will happen in this article.

Why is the 2G and 3G network being switched off?

The GSM mobile network, better known to many as 2G, has been in existence since 1990. This is the second generation of the mobile network, which was then supplemented by the third generation network (3G), the UMTS network, from the year 2000. Today, almost 20 years later, almost everyone is talking about LTE (4G) and the 5G network already available in major German cities. The old technologies are being phased out and it has been clear for some time that they will be gradually switched off in the coming months and years. This will make more room for the new standards and thus also a reliable and faster connection in the mobile network. With the wherever SIM, you are ideally equipped for the future, because our M2M SIM cards already support the fast 4G network almost all over the world and will soon also support the new 5G network. What this means for you in concrete terms and when the switch-offs of 2G and 3G will take place, you will find out in the following sections.

The SIM card is ready. Your terminals too?

Our M2M SIM cards already support several hundred 4G networks around the world. As soon as roaming agreements for the 5G network are in place, you don't have to do anything else either. The M2M SIM cards then automatically support all 5G networks for which such an agreement exists. It is important that your end devices are also able to establish a connection at least via the 4G network. Especially with older devices, there is a risk that only the 2G and 3G networks are supported. Downward compatibility (the 4G network is not compatible with pure 2G/3G-capable devices) is not given, so that these devices cannot dial into the new networks and in the worst case remain offline. If you are affected, please contact us. We have contacts to reliable hardware partners and together we will find the right solution for you.

When are the networks in Germany affected?

In Germany, all mobile operators (Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2) have already announced the switch-off of 3G. While Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone will switch off their 3G radio cells as early as 31.06.2021, these will remain in operation for the O2 network until the end of the year. For the slower, but especially in rural areas widespread 2G network, only Vodafone has so far announced a date for the switch-off: Vodafone will finally pull the plug on the 2G network on 31.12.2025. As soon as we have information on the other network providers, we will inform you accordingly.

German Telekom
Vodafone
Telefonica O2
Planned 2G switch-off

No date known yet

31.12.2025

No date known yet

Planned 3G switch-off

30.06.2021

30.06.2021

21.12.2021

What about 2G and 3G networks worldwide?

A detailed overview of worldwide network operators is summarised in our listing "Roaming Services Sunset". Overall, it would be obvious to conclude that, as in Germany, the 3G network will be switched off first internationally. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the network providers in the different regions handle the switch-offs very differently. In Switzerland, for example, Swisscom has already switched off the 2G network, while Sunrise plans to do so by 31.12.2022. However, we do not yet have any dates for the switch-off of the 3G network in Switzerland. In the USA, AT&T's 2G network was already switched off in 2017, while T-Mobile will follow suit at the end of this year. The 3G network was already switched off by T-Mobile in the USA last year, AT&T wants to end 3G at the end of next year. Since the situation varies so much from country to country, we recommend upgrading hardware to the 4G network with a fallback to the 2G network, especially for international use cases, in order to be ready for the new mobile phone generations. For IoT devices, the LTE standard LTE-M is also gaining ground. The advantage of this technology is reception even under difficult conditions, such as in rooms and basements.

What is to be done now because of the shutdown?

With an M2M SIM from wherever SIM, you are ideally prepared for the future generations of mobile networks. It's best to make sure directly that your end devices are at least 4G-capable. If you have any uncertainties or queries, our team of IoT and mobile communications experts will be happy to help. We will keep you regularly informed about new switch-off dates.