back to article 3 starts killing off 2G coverage

3 has started to switch off roaming onto Orange's 2G network in locations where it reckons its own coverage makes the 2G partner redundant. 3 doesn't run a 2G network in the UK, so customers wandering outside the 3G coverage have always roamed into someone else's 2G infrastructure. Initially that was provided by O2, more …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down


    have a long was to go before they can think of doing this. Their 3G coverage is risible outside of large towns and cities. Even where it is available, coverage is exceedingly patchy with many dead spots.

    1. SteveK

      "outside of large towns and cities"

      I'm with Vodafone and only occasionally get a very weak 3G signal in this city, even when outside. Most of the time just a pathetic 2G signal of medium strength. So Vodafone have a huge way to go as they can't even provide 3G *in* cities, let alone outside them.

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Seems to be SOP for Vodafone

      Their 3G coverage is just as patchy down here in Australia too. In a few too many areas, including right where I work, I have to use 2G to get any kind of reliable signal. When my contract is up in a couple of months I think it'll be time to look at a new service provider.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh foo

    I'm not with 3, thankfully, for I have far too much equipment that doesn't do 3G at all. The venerable 6310 for starters, and well everything else but the e52 which isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    And in any case, we'll need 2G for decades to come: Too many embedded things need 2G or even specifically 900MHz. SMS gateways, phones built into cars, entire cities worth of city buses, sensor networks, what have you.

    As an apparently consumer-only operator 3 can perhaps force the move, but there will be a market for those of us not married to the idea of being a meek consumer, but with heavy investment elsewhere. Besides, the operators _given_ the 900MHz spectrum can't just abandon 2G because it's no longer hip or cool. If ofcom lets them we might as well give ofcom the boot, bloody useless buggers.

    Some form of 2G must remain available and not for extortionate prices either. Some form of dynamic flexible frequency allotment liquidity technology might help squeeze out more bandwidth where and when there is less demand for 2G operation, but turning it off entirely just isn't an option for the foreseeable future.

  3. Number6

    As much as 2G?

    My house is a 0G environment. I'm lucky to get any mobile signal from any operator at a usable strength. Outside I can occasionally get 2G but not a chance of 3G.

  4. Berny Stapleton

    They have turned off 2G roaming from Ireland as well..

    So if you hit London from Ireland and expect to be able to roam to a 2G carrier, this is off. You have to use 3G.

  5. RichyS

    Did 3 sell the Sony Ericsson W910?

    I used to have one. Nice looking slider Walkman type thing. The problem was the thing only lasted half a day on 3G, so I had to switch it to a permanent 2G only connection to make it usable.

    I imagine several other 3G phones suffer similar usability issues. Oh well, any excuse for a forced upgrade, eh.

  6. jsimeon
    Thumb Down

    Upgrade path should be 2G/4G-capable hardware

    That at least is what is happening in Sweden in some networks. As 2G services diminish over time you move 2G site capacity to 4G. Depending on what kind of network you have to begin with of course.

    For instance Tele2 is getting rid of old Motorola GSM equipment in favour of Huawei multi standard equipment.

    Interesting times for sure.



  7. Pypes

    What 2G only handsets?

    I brought the cheapest unlocked handset <large supermarket> stocked in order to replace my phone from 3 after their insurance refused to pay out ( apparently having your phone insured against theft doesn't actually mean they will replace it when your jacket gets stolen from work)

    I got a text off 3 soon after firing up the new phone telling me I couldn't use a none-3g phone on their network, a few days it just stopped working. Lets just say I won't be signing any more contracts with them.

  8. Andy Hards

    Well the name sort of gives it away

    and it has been their main selling point since they started. I came back to the UK in late 2005 after a few years away and missed all the bad bits of 3. Been with them ever since and am more than happy with my 2gb of data a month, 1100 mins/texts all for £25.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Hope their coverage is better than bloody Orange. I have been on GPRS around London since about last Friday (in different locations, quite some miles apart, even tried different handsets from different manufacturers).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    user turns off 3G?

    what about those folk who have adjusted their phone settings to only use non 3G - rather than suffer the very poor battery lifetime as their handset continually looks for a weak or non existant 3G connection? they'd have roamed to 2G but not now....

  11. Andrew Woodvine

    3G only

    Since being with 3 I find their coverage so good I've turned off 2G anyway. Seeing as I use my mobile mainly for data it was annoying when my phone would get stuck on 2G, when I knew I was in a 3G coverage area. Data over 2G is so slow and unreliable I'd sooner not bother.

    1. Matt_payne666

      me too!

      ive recently migrated to 3 from O2... I live out in the sticks and there are so many dead spots for Voda (my work phone) and O2.

      With O2, if I had a 3G signal, id be mildly surprised! and even more surprised if I could actually use it!

      Now with 3, I hardly ever see the GPRS icon on my phone! and as for coverage, yes, i have had no signal, infact I have that right now, but I also have that here with both O2 and Voda...

      All in all, a better coverage with 3 and a pretty consistant 3G coverage at that! so, go ahead and switch off the 2G transmitters... if you dont dump legacy, then there is too much temptation to just run with it and not evolve!

      oh, and the idea of being able to recive a call, anywhere in my house, be able to answer it and finish a 20 minute conversation, well, that is just amazing!!

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    vzw does this too

    Verizon Wireless does this too... they've turned off in-market roaming in some markets. To me, it seems like if the roaming percentage is low, why not leave the agreement in place to fill im those few spots that need it?

    On the other hand, 3 should feel free to give people with 2g-only phones and phones that are 3g but prefer 2g excessively the boot.

  13. UMTS =(

    3G mobile phones.. no thanks

    In reality there's no such thing as a 3G "mobile" phone, as soon as you start moving you'll probably drop the call !! For stationary data sticks it can be a good technology but even then cell breathing makes it unreliable. Should have gone straight from edge to LTE, this move by 3UK will probably see them disappear as a serious mobile phone operator. 2G for phones will be around for at least another ten years in the UK

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Switched to UMTS only (from Dual Mode) on my N95 8GB here in Sheffield after reading this, and my signal strength shot UP from my dodgy 2-3 bars to between 5 and 7!!!


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good luck with UMTS only

      Seriously? the network is supposed to push you onto 3G if it's available at the right measurements. Bars do not mean much when it comes to 3G and there's nothing wrong with 2 bars of 2G. Good luck with your new settings, post back in a week (or day) if you keep them

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A week later :D

        I'm still smiling.. I think the issue here was that most of these phones are set up for powersave ultimately, otherwise it's the one thing that'll drive you mad.. My 2 bars on 2G were giving me real problems, and for whatever reason it wasn't switching to 3G for better voice call stability or quality. Could've been a firmware fault or simply like i said - powersave overrides everything. I charge the phone up every two days, or every night if necessary, so locking it onto 3G (in my case) is a no brainer - i now get quicker browsing from the word go, quicker connecting of my outgoing calls, and clear and stable voice calls whether i'm in the kitchen or lazing around in bed. i'll say it again - for me, its a BIG REEESSUUULLLT :D

    2. nickhill

      Three's botched switch-off

      How does Three no longer utilising the Orange 2G network have anything to do with increased UMTS bars on your phone?

      Those transmitters which many Three customers have relied upon for service, and have now been cut, are not all of a sudden being re-fitted with UMTS systems for use by Three's customers. They don't belong to Three, and they are on a completely different frequency band.

      They might eventually be fitted with 2G/3G/4G multi-standard systems, and they might one day be accessible to Three's customers through a 3G network sharing arrangement, but right now, it is bad news for many customers who find the ability to make and receive calls very important.

      How many... who knows? I don't expect Three will lose many customers in London, I would expect they are haemorrhaging customers in small towns and villages where 3g coverage isn't so good.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My advice

    Stay well clear of 3, I call centre monkey in another country will never give you the help you need.

    Avoid Vodafone contracts, their network is good, but the chimps in their call centres can not do ANYTHING right. Similar to 3, one ape will give you one story and the next call to the animals will result in a completely different story being spouted. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right is doing!

    The 02 network is flaky, but at least the customer services is slightly better, but still don’t shine.

    Orange is a rip, but I've not had a contract with them since 1995 after they conned me.

    T-Mobile don’t offer returns within 14 days, so get it right first time because they wont help you otherwise.

    The up shot - avoid taking contracts. Use PAYG services that way you get the network giving you the best coverage and you don’t have to bang your head against the wall trying to communicate with their call centres drones. Yes, you might pay full cost for the handset, but you'll get a decent trade-in price to discount off the next handset, and some PAYG offers can compete with contract deals.

  16. Rogerborg

    What about emergency calls?

    There could be CHILDREN making them!

  17. nickhill

    Doesn't improve situation for existing customers

    A friend and his wife has (had) three contracts. They get exactly zero coverage at home from Three's 3G network. They have relied on the 2G GSM coverage provided by the orange network at home.

    Those Three customers who have good 3G coverage at home and at work are not affected by this change, either for the better or worse, unless they decide to go out of town, where there is often no 3G coverage.

    Some people seem to be promoting this switch-off as a step forward. I can't see how that can be the case, and regard it as perverse. Particularly given that the transmitters are still there, the bandwidth allocation is there, and there is no service.

    My friend had no reception on his mobile for nearly a week. He believed there was a fault with the transmitter... until he discovered someone in the area with a working Orange phone. He then drilled through a layer of customer service at Three until he found someone who would tell him what was really going on.

    Three- Get your act together. tell your customers what is really going on. Don't switch the services they are relying on and paying you for off then leave them in the dark. Compare your coverage map to your customers postcodes. Tell them you are cutting their service off before they discover it after the event.

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Emergency calls

    @Rogerborg, I've never tested it, but supposedly emergency calls will go through anyway. I.e. The phone can show "no service" (because there IS service but you can't roam onto it) and dialing emergency services goes through anyway.

    1. UMTS =(

      Emergency Calls

      @Henry Wertz 1 .. Emergency call only can work in some places in the world but not the UK as the operators do not support it.. It would be good if they did but it's not even on the cards

  19. John Warlow

    Bye Bye Three

    I upgraded to the iPhone 4 on Three and found they had turned off 2g the day before! (28th Oct). I've since returned the iPhone, got my PAC early (contract ends Feb next year) and received an iPhone from Vod today. Looking forward to being able to txt at home again!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like