Austen Shakespeare

2G and 3G to be phased out by 2033 alongside £50m government telecoms research

2G and 3G mobile networks will be phased out of use in the UK by 2033 as part of measures to increase the security of telecoms supply chains and to support a smooth transition to faster mobile networks.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries announced the ambition, alongside £50m of telecoms research and development projects, ahead of her first visit to the United States where she will meet with US Secretary for Commerce Gina Raimondo.

The announcement follows the UK’s decision to ban Huawei equipment from 5G networks and the recent introduction of the Telecommunications Security Act.

It forms part of the government’s £250m strategy to build a more competitive, innovative and diverse supply chain for telecoms, to reduce the world’s over-reliance on a few equipment makers.

The UK and the US are united in their mission to resolve this global issue. The government has agreed (see notes to editors) with the UK mobile network operators (MNOs) Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media O2 and Three that 2033 will be the date by which all public 2G and 3G networks in the UK will be switched off.

The plans will free up spectrum - the radio waves used for sending and receiving information - to allow for the mass rollout of 5G and other future networks such as 6G which will help create huge possibilities for people’s lives.

These technologies will help power driverless vehicles and drones, immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences, as well as innovations in tech to achieve Net Zero and improve healthcare.

The government’s £200m 5G Testbeds and Trials programme is already seeing next-generation networks transform industries - from smart farming to immersive reality experiences to enhancing the UK’s top tourist destinations and 5G buoys helping coastguards save lives at sea.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “5G technology is already revolutionising people’s lives and businesses - connecting people across the UK with faster mobile data and making businesses more productive.

“Today we are announcing a further £50m to put the UK at the forefront of mobile connectivity and to make sure our telecoms networks are safe and secure now and in the future. We can only do this through stronger international collaboration and I will be meeting with our US allies today as we strengthen our ties on technology.”

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