Mobile network: 3G starts to be turned off this year

Third-generation mobile technology is about to end. Similar to what is happening internationally, Portuguese operators have already started to pronounce on the plans to close their 3G networks. A measure that arises in response to technological evolution and the growing consumption of data and connected devices that we have been witnessing.

In some cases, the network signal starts to be disconnected as early as September. However, given the considerable number of subscribers still using the network, the process will be gradual, with the end of voice and 3G mobile internet services expected by 2025. According to data released by ANACOM, the telecommunications market regulator in Portugal, almost one million people continue to use the 3G network.

At least until September, nothing changes for customers of the main national operators, who are now committed to maintaining 4G networks and expanding 5G, seeking to guarantee more speed, capacity, stability, efficiency and resilience.
Some of the main concerns of consumers are the need to buy a new mobile phone or replace their SIM card. Know the answers and the main advantages of this change.

With the end of 3G, is it necessary to buy a new mobile phone?

It all depends on the age of the equipment. Even if they don't support 5G yet, the latest smartphones are 4G ready. Thus, if the device is compatible with 4G, it will not be necessary to purchase a new device.

On the other hand, citizens with equipment that only have access to 2G and 3G networks will no longer be able to browse the Internet when the 3G network is closed. These will only be able to make phone calls, accessing 2G technology, as long as the operators keep the network active.

Is it possible to keep the SIM card with the shutdown of the 3G network?

If the SIM card is older than 2012, the customer does not need to upgrade to use 4G and 5G networks. However, if it is before this date, you must go to one of the operator's stores and request a new card.

All customers will be notified by their operator when 3G is turned off and if their card is incompatible with the new networks. This contact will be valid for both private and business customers.

How does 3G differ from 4G and 5G and what advantages does it bring to the consumer?

Beginning in the 2000s, 3G technology is responsible for much of the innovation in the way we browse the web, social media and our smartphones today. In addition to making it possible to send e-mail and SMS messages much more efficiently, it offered navigation possibilities on the cell phone and anywhere - even in places where fixed broadband did not exist - and with speeds that reached megabits per second, something that no mobile telecommunications system had achieved it before.

However, 3G has a low average speed when compared to other more developed current mobile technologies, which ends up creating some constraints for users.

In 2010, 4G technology — or LTE (Long Term Evolution) — brought new possibilities to citizens, such as MMS, video calls, mobile TV, HDTV content, Digital Video Broadcasting (DvB), viewing high definition videos, access to Faster internet and file transfers and eight times faster upload speed compared to 3G mobile network. Being, currently, the technology with the greatest coverage in the national territory, 4G allows not only to transfer data more efficiently, but also to use and connect several technological devices at the same time, without jeopardizing the network connection.

More recently, the debate has arisen around a 5th generation of mobile communications, which guarantees a speed up to 100 times greater than 4G networks, lower latency and response times, and a density capacity (connectivity) that can reach a million devices connected per km2 — which means more speed and volume of data transmission at the same time. In addition, it offers the possibility of providing real-time or instantaneous experiences, since all devices, technologies, applications and equipment are connected at the same time.

In Portugal, the 5G network is still being installed. Seeking to remain at the forefront and in line with the ambition of exporting the business model to mobile connectivity, dstelecom is a candidate for the '5G for Smart Communities' project of the CEF program, whose objective is to finance the implementation of 5G infrastructure in rural and sparsely populated areas.