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BT to phase out 3G in UK by 2023 for EE, Plusnet, BT Mobile subscribers

Cos 4G and 5G will be all hunky-dory by then, yeah?

BT is going to wind down 3G connectivity by 2023 as it looks to increase its 4G and 5G coverage across most of the UK by 2028.

The lack of 3G shouldn't be too much of a pain because by that point, most people will have a 4G or 5G-capable handheld. The telecommunications giant said less than two per cent of data traffic over its EE network used 3G in March, and dropping 3G will free up bandwidth for 4G and 5G.

“As part of efforts to ensure all customers can benefit from the most reliable connections 3G services will also be retired, with customers across BT brands phased off 3G by 2023,” it announced this week. The change will affect EE, BT Mobile, and Plusnet subscribers.

BT said it’ll also retire 2G by the end of this decade, according to Reuters. If you still have an old 2G or 3G-reliant handset, it’s probably time to start thinking about an upgrade.

The goal is to focus on and invest more into 4G and 5G networks, we're told. As a backdrop to all this, there's been an increase in demand in connectivity as people work, study, and shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic. “We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth,” said Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group.

"We’re making a uniquely ambitious, long-term commitment to drive high performance 5G further and faster, and to integrate it at the core with our fibre network for a seamless customer experience," he added. "Openreach was first to fibre, EE was first to 5G and together BT will be first to a fully converged future."

First, BT'll push 4G broadband into more remote areas and is planning to cover at least a further 4,500 square miles over the next four years. At the same time, it’ll be expanding 5G coverage, and wants to provide 5G to 90 per cent of the whole country, in terms of landmass, by 2028. Towns like Redditch, Morecambe, and Cramlington were named as the first UK towns to benefit from this rollout.

To meet its targets, BT said it will also look at using drones and telecom satellites in low-Earth orbits, such as its OneWeb partnership. ®

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