Optus, Telstra: Cusomters urged to make the 3G switch

Experts are warning people to stop procrastinating and switch to 4G networks as customers scramble to get off 3G as the shutdown deadline looms.

Australia’s two largest telecommunications companies, Telstra and Optus, will shut down their 3G network on August 31 and September 1.

Vodafone already shut down its 3G network in January this year.

The network has been around for over 20 years, but has now been succeeded by 4G and 5G. However, many devices are still running on the old 3G network, with both telcos and industry experts urging people to switch before the deadlines expire.

Verison Connect product manager Paul Miller said a lot of people put it off because a lot of 3G-dependent technology is “out of sight, out of mind”.

“Whenever you think about it, you think about mobile phones from a consumer perspective, but there’s actually a lot of technology that uses SIM cards inside and hidden,” Mr Miller said.

“Vehicles are equipped with a tracking device that helps track shipments and monitor services on time. And that piece of hardware might work for 10 years without a problem.

“You’ve replaced the SIM card, but you’ll more than likely need to replace the entire hardware. Think of cell phones, you put one in and one out. But the hardware that is there may not support 4G.

“A lot of our customers don’t know that piece of hardware is still there. And they don’t know what technology it’s based on. Why would you? It’s just hidden. So it’s kind of out of sight, to some extent out of mind.”

Teletrac Navman chief product officer Andrew Rossington told NewsWire that the shutdown will affect more than just mobile and smart devices.

“You’ve got everything from medical equipment and warning stuff to everything that’s come out in the last few years. In the medical industry, it could be personal items, so any of these medical-related personal devices,” Mr Rossington said.

“The world we live in is devices, vehicles and tracking, so telematics and the like. A lot of people are late with these. Even payment systems (like) EFTOPS and anything that’s potentially been sitting there for years that people have forgotten about, maybe monitoring security or fuel level in the tank or monitoring security.”

Having had a similar experience with customers in the US, Mr Rossington noticed a similar pattern of people leaving at the last minute.

“People don’t pay attention to it, they don’t see enough of the importance of this matter to us, so we see a lot of people coming late to the party,” he said.

“Stop procrastinating. We’re counting down. Think about it, contact your provider. Whether it’s a telematics or a phone provider, get on it now, because on August 30th, when you’re in the queue of people doing it, there’s probably going to be a long tail of that line.”

For Telstra and Optus customers who want to know if their mobile device is affected, you can text the number and you will receive a message from your provider.

Telstra and Optus customers are advised to text 3 to 3498, and a spokesperson for both telcos said they will support customers as much as they can.

“Telstra has been reporting network closures for almost 5 years now, but you understand there are a number of reasons why some people haven’t moved on. This two-month extension will give people more time to upgrade their devices,” said Chris Taylor, regional general manager for Telstra.

“Optus continues to communicate directly with customers we believe will be affected by the closure of our 3G network from September 2024 to strongly encourage them to replace their device,” said Andrew Sheridan, Optus’ vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

What will be affected by the shutdown of 3G

Mobile phones: iPhone 5, 5C and 5S, Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini, Samsung Galaxy S5, Nokia 301.

Smart watches: Apple Watch Series 3, 4 and 5, Galaxy Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2.

Pills: iPad Air, iPad Retina, iPad mini Retina, iPad mini and mini 3.

Internet of Things: (IoT): EFTPOS terminals, industrial routers, scanners, security surveillance, telematics, asset tracking, personal emergency response solutions and environmental control.

Other affected devices: Medical Alarms, Home Security Alarms/Devices

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