One week to go before Optus shuts down its 2G network

Move will leave only Vodafone’s GSM network operating — until it’s shutdown in September

Optus will complete the switch off of 2G GSM services on 1 August.

In April, Optus switched off 2G services in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The telco will complete the shutdown of its 2G network next week, the telco confirmed this morning.

Optus’s 2G network launched in 1993 (along with the Telstra and Vodafone 2G networks).

“Nearly 25 years on, and our customer levels using the 2G mobile network have significantly decreased as greater smartphone usage and advances in 4G technologies drive customer preferences for mobile data and faster speeds,” said managing director of networks at Optus, Dennis Wong.

“This was the right time for us to close the 2G network.”

Optus in 2015 originally announced details of its plan to shut down its GSM network.

Telstra last year shut down its GSM network, after cutting of CDMA services in 2008. Vodafone is planning to shut down its 2G network in September this year.

Last week Optus revealed plans to invest $1 billion to expand its mobile services in regional Australia.

The telcos’ move to end GSM services come as the industry engages in a spectrum land-grab both to boost existing 4G and ‘4.5G’ services and ahead of the imminent rollout of 5G services.

Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield last week described 5G as “an inflection point” for the Australian economy.

“For Australia, this represents an unprecedented opportunity,” the minister said in a speech to CommsDay’s Unwired Revolution conference.

“There’s no country I think better positioned to harness the opportunities of 5G. We have an effective and competitive mobile market which delivers voice and data coverage to 99.3 per cent of the population and this despite our huge landmass and extremely low population density.”

The government is currently staging a public consultation on changes to Australia’s spectrum management framework, with the aim of simplifying and modernising it.

The exposure draft of the Radiocommunications Bill 2017removes the existing barriers between licence types and enables flexible licence issue and allocation processes,” Fifield said.

“This will enable [the Australian Communications and Media Authority] to pro-actively respond to market demands and new technologies such as 5G by removing the overly cumbersome and bureaucratic processes and allowing the market to work.

“This is the most significant change to the spectrum management framework in the last 25 or so years, and it’s the type of long-term reform that will help Australia remain internationally competitive.”

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