Austria’s Magenta Telekom sets 2024 for 3G shutdown

Austria’s Magenta Telekom plans to switch off its 20-year-old 3G technology at the start of 2024, freeing up those frequencies for 4G/LTE and 5G.

It’s just the latest in a string of operators to announce 3G shutdowns, a practice that is well underway in the U.S.

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone switched off their 3G networks in 2021, and in December, O2/Telefonica shut off the last of the 3G sites there. In the U.K., Vodafone announced it will shut off 3G in 2023. Swisscom is set to sunset its 3G network in Switzerland at the end of 2025.

In Austria, Magenta Telekom, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, also uses the UMTS/HSPA+ flavor of 3G, which it points out “ushered in the mobile internet age.” But that technology has been overtaken and replaced by 4G/LTE and 5G.

“The outdated 3G/UMTS technology in the Magenta Telekom network will therefore go into well-deserved retirement after 20 years of service,” the Austrian operator stated.Starting January 1, 2024, 3G/UMTS will be gradually phased out at all of its network locations. The freed 3G frequency spectrum will then be reused for newer technologies like 4G/LTE and 5G, making the Magenta network “even better for all customers.”

“With the arrival of 3G, smartphones, mobile apps and connected devices were in their prime. 20 years have passed since then, end devices, user behavior and requirements for mobile networks have changed, and data growth is never-ending. 4G/LTE has long been the new top dog, while the even faster 5G is being rolled out all the time,” said Magenta Telekom CTIO Volker Libovsky in a statement.

The company noted that almost half of new Magenta Internet customers opt for service plans with 250 Mbps or faster. "We have decided to phase out 3G in 2024 in order to devote the free frequencies to future-proof 4G/LTE and 5G. Machine networks for industrial solutions will also benefit. For our mobile customers, this means an even better experience when surfing the Internet, making calls and more capacity at peak times,” Libovsky added.

The majority of its customers already use internet services that tap into the 4G/LTE or 5G network and make calls using the LTE network.

After the 3G shutoff, customers who have a 3G-enabled device that doesn’t support 4G/LTE or 5G can only use the 2G network. For making phone calls, the 2G network results in reduced voice quality and longer connection times. It’s still possible to send text messages, but not to receive or send many pictures or videos without any problems, the operator noted.

Magenta Telekom is advising customers with older phones to switch to a newer 4G/LTE or 5G-capable device by 2024, even if all they want to do is make phone calls. On the newer phones, VoLTE is automatically included for all Magenta customers at no additional cost. However, with some smartphones, VoLTE must be switched on in the device settings.