The end of 3G begins as Vodafone Netherlands shuts down its 3G network

Vodafone banner
Vodafone banner (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • 3G networks are being shut down globally, and Vodafone Netherlands is the first to do so in Europe.
  • The firm says this is to improve connectivity and free up the spectrum.
  • Other worldwide carriers plan to follow as soon as this year.

Chances are if you've got a modern smartphone purchased around 2017 onwards, you're using 4G. And it's been pretty great. Your songs stream near-instantly, your videos download quickly, and your snaps send almost as fast as you can take them. Sometimes, you fall back to 3G, but that's getting rarer than ever. Soon, depending on your network, you won't even have 3G to fall back on.

Vodafone Netherlands is kicking off the death of 3G in Europe by being one of the first carriers to kill off its 3G network entirely. The firm made this announcement back in December 2019.

Why is Vodafone shutting down 3G?

When 3G is gone, [customers] will have more and improved coverage through 4G. In remote areas, you sometimes only have a 3G signal at present. In the new year, in many of such places mobile internet will become a fraction better.[...]Old phones, even older SIMs – chances are that your smartphone and SIM card are already using 4G as it should… and have done so for years. In that case, you will only benefit even more. The end of 3G will bring the Netherlands much faster, safer and stabler mobile internet.

Vodafone Netherlands may be the first to officially dump 3G, but it's certainly not the last. With 5G becoming the future, 4G is set to become the new baseline. Over in the US, Verizon Wireless is killing off its 3G CDMA networks sometime in the near future (a 2019 shutdown date was pushed back). AT&T and T-Mobile are doing so as well in the early 20s.

Now, we just need to wait for 5G to become ubiquitous, so the benefits of a new generation can truly be felt.

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Michael Allison