EE – part of BT Group – announced last year that is it retiring its 3G network in early 2024. As part of the phased closure of this network, they will begin withdrawing 3G services across Flintshire.
Over 95% of EE/BT customers never use the 3G network. Instead, they use 4G and 5G which provide faster, more secure and more reliable connections. Turning off 3G – a legacy network which more than 20 years old – means we can use our mobile network much more efficiently. It will significantly reduce our energy consumption as 3G is power-hungry and we can reuse the radio spectrum for the 4G and 5G services our customers demand.
In Wales, 4G coverage stands at over 99% of the population and over 87% of geography – which is already significantly largely than our existing 3G footprint – with further improvements coming for 5G coverage.
What does this mean for you?
Phasing out 3G may impact some residents and EE/BT are committed to supporting you upgrade where you want to.
When the network is closed, residents using older 3G handsets will still be able to make calls and send texts over 2G as normal but will need to use Wi-Fi or move to a 4G or 5G service to access the internet on their mobile phone. EE/BT are offering all vulnerable customers a free 4G-ready mobile phone or a big discount on a pay monthly plan for those who want to choose their own handset, meaning people will save money on their phone bill by making this move. EE/BT have been communicating widely to customers about this change including direct messages and engagement with local media.
For most customers impacted by this change, this is as straightforward as following the steps below. Our Customer Care team will also provide specific help to any customers who are vulnerable or require additional support. This will include outbound calls in advance to make them aware of the change and offer dedicated assistance, a dedicated freephone line where they can call our 3G support team to talk through their individual needs and get help with migrating, as well as access to assistance from staff at our retail stores and call centres.
If customers have any questions, they can contact us by dialling 150 from their EE handset and we’d be more than happy to talk them through the process. They can also find our more information by visiting our website: www.ee.co.uk/3g-switch-off.
Here are five steps customers can take to make sure they are ready for 3G retirement:
- Check 4G and 5G mobile coverage in their local area using EE’s coverage checker.
- Text ‘Handset’ to 150 to see if their mobile phone already supports 4G Calling or Wi-Fi Calling and get advice on how to upgrade if needed.
- Check or ask a family member to ensure that 4G and/or 5G Calling is turned on in their mobile phone settings. 4G Calling may be referred to as LTE Calling or VoLTE on some phones.
- Turn ‘Wi-Fi calling’ on in their mobile phone settings.
- Visit the EE website or speak to a colleague in store to get expert advice on 3G retirement and what it means