back to article Sod 3G, that can go, but don't rush to turn off 2G, UK still needs it – report

In the dash to move everything to next-generation services, mobile operators mustn't be too hasty to switch off 2G, a report by industry bodies has warned. As Blighty starts to deploy 5G networks, operators are beginning to make noises about switching off older networks to free up much coveted spectrum. However, 2G is still …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's an idea

    2G services were/are run by Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile; the last two having merged and taken over by BT. Three used Orange's network for 2G so they don't have a presence.

    Using the old tried and tested technique of the Government persuading (bullying) BT to maintain a public service commitment paid for by private customers, Boris should get BT/EE to maintain basic 2G network coverage and allow O2 and Vodafone to turn theirs off to save money or use the frequencies for 5G Tweak the 2G roaming settings so that any remaining 2G phone/SIMs can roam onto BT/EE.

    Job done; Vodafone and O2 get a freebie, BT carries the can again and the political problem goes away.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea

      BT tried to sell me a moblie phone, but would not accept that I had my work one which was BT as it has O2 on it and O2 is BT to me as it was called BT Cellnet.

      1. Lazlo Woodbine

        Re: Here's an idea

        O2 for a long while has been owned by Telefonica, the Spanish telco. So if you have an O2 phone it has nothing to do with BT

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea

          Formed by BT so of course I am going to hit BT around the head with it.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea

        About year 2000 BT manglement decided that as that new-fangled mobile stuff didn't use wires it wasn't really anything to do with them so they merged Cellnet and BT Mobile, the customer facing business as O2 floated it as a separate company. Then Telefonica, who did grap the fact that mobiles were phones, bid for it and bought it.

        Eventually a later BT management that realised mobile was an important aspect of telecoms discovered that they didn't have and player in the market. For a while they set up another business, also called BT Mobile, presumably to the amusement of any old BT Mobile hands still left in O2, to flog other people's services. The only way to fix this humiliating consequence of the depredations of their idiot predecessors was to buy EE which had been cobbled together out of bits of some of their previous competitors. To do this they had to use a substantial chunk of ptheir shares as payment to Deutsche Telekom.

        I reckon that even by BT's appalling standards the original decision to get out of the mobile business was particularly egregious although it did justify the low opinion that those working in the original BT Mobile held of Big BT as it was known there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an idea

      O2 (previously Cellnet) and Vodafone 2G is mainly 900MHz and bit of 1800MHz. EE 2G is 1800MHz.

      Turning off 900MHz 2G would have a significant effect on coverage.

    3. Red Ted
      Happy

      2G will be here for some time yet

      As part of EE rolling out the mandated 95% geographic UK coverage (basically putting up lots of masts in the most rural parts of Scotland) for the Emergency Services Network (see El Reg ad passim about this pork barrel and its lateness) they are refreshing their 2G network.

      As also mentioned in the article, removing the 2G networks will also break the late, expensive and generally regarded as pointless, Smart Metering rollout.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2G will be here for some time yet

        What makes you think

        1) these masts will carry 2G services?

        2) the public will be able to utilise services on those extended area masts?

      2. MarkGrld

        Re: 2G will be here for some time yet

        Why would they refresh the 2G when the point of ESN is all 4G?

        1. Red Ted
          Facepalm

          Re: 2G will be here for some time yet

          Ahh, you should check the data charges for M2M SIMs. Whilst the volume of data is low (M2M tend not to watch cat videos) there are still a lot of devices embedded in infrastructure that will be really expensive to replace.

  2. dave 81

    Set a date, and stick to it.

    Unless forced, 2G will continue to be used for decades like with all older technology that there is a reliance on. A switch off date, and a reasonable date at that needs to be set, and stuck to. Otherwise we are not going to see 2G switched off in our life times.

    1. AVee

      Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

      So? Seeing 2G switched of is not on my bucket-list, so it can stay for my lifetime ;-)

      We can just keep 2G running as the baseline mobile technology. And at the same time 3G can be phased out as 4G takes over. Much like FM radio is still there even though DAB exists and will be replaced with DAB+ in due time. Like FM radio 2G is simply the lowest common denominator, and will be for quite some time.

      As it it the cost of replacing a 2G only devices is huge, not just phones but all sorts of connected devices (smart meters are mentioned, but there a many more like burglar alarms, alarm buttons for elderly, loads of sensor equipment...) That will all need to be replaced. However, 3G devices (and there are far less of those) can mostly fall back to 2G. (And those that can't probably will actually benefit from an upgrade to 4G making it an easier sell.)

      And to be honest, I doubt providers will want to switch of 2G because they are still making good money of all those devices out there. Forcing those customers into replacing equipment which is all over the country isn't going to go down well. A lot of them will start taking a serious look at possible alternatives (like Sigfox and LoRaWan) if they need to replace their hardware anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

        Surely AM or LW would be the lowest common denominator in that scenario?

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

        The problem with DAB (and DAB+) is it doesn't work as well as FM. This might seem irrelevant in a discussion of 2G phase out but it highlights a problem with obsoleting older technology -- it not only renders a lot of equipment unusable but its replacement may not measure up to the capabilities of the older technology.

        2G is still used by devices that need to be low power that transmit relatively small amounts of data intermittently. As such its actually more robust than newer technologies, just as copper wire pairs tend to be more robust than wireless for low speed traffic so long as the wires are not damaged. Those nascent standards that will duplicate or improve on its capabilities such as LoRaWan have yet to prove themselves -- they may well be the eventual replacement but until proven capable and phased in over a period of many years they're just pipe dreams.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

        A lot of them will start taking a serious look at possible alternatives

        AKA "never give a customer reason to review the market".

    2. Muppet Boss

      Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

      Could they arrange at least decent 3G coverage across the country before turning off anything?

    3. Muppet Boss
      Trollface

      Re: Set a date, and stick to it.

      >Set a date, and stick to it.

      >

      >Unless forced, 2G will continue to be used for decades like with all older technology that

      >there is a reliance on. A switch off date, and a reasonable date at that needs to be set, and stuck to.

      >Otherwise we are not going to see 2G switched off in our life times.

      Now replace 2G with EU. It will be easy they said...

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Is there an option?

    What if you don't want a ruddy snooping "smartphone"? I still use a robust waterproof feature phone with a real keyboard - just to make calls and send texts. I tried a "smart" phone but it was a pain to use."Gestures" for goodness sake! It didn't respond to the gesture I used most frequently in frustration at it doing unexpected things I hadn't asked for.

    It's about time utility rather than entertainment value or commercial advantage became the key criterion for defining critical national infrastructure.

    1. blaster219

      Re: Is there an option?

      3G feature phones exist.

      Sell about half a dozen of them a week.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Is there an option?

        3G you say? Do your customers know they might stop working next year?

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Is there an option?

        Can you point me in the direction of models? We have two Samsung B550H in this household but I really got on well with my Sony Eriksson K800i and Nokia 6220 Classic back when they were cool. 3G, tethering, Opera, GPS (in one) and half decent cameras with proper flash. I've been tempted by KaiOS phones but they're few in number and a bit pricey...

        M.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Is there an option?

          Samsung do the B2710 - that's 3G and feature phone candy bar style. I know because I've got one. The earlier builds i.e. my last one were more robust but this one is still supposedly waterproof (IP67) etc.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-B2710-Sim-free-Unbranded-Black/dp/B0043SXVLK

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Is there an option?

            Blimey, £148? That's a lot of money for a phone with a lower spec. than our B550s, which were about £70 when new some four or five years ago. Actually, I think the wife has a B2710 as her work phone.

            That's the dilemma though, isn't it? For £160 (RRP) you could get a Nokia 4.2 which is a pretty decent spec. smartphone, or a very similar N3.2 for £130. There are smartphones available well below £100, though some of them are dubious quality. The Nokia 1 plus (to stick with a theme) seems to have a street price of around £80.

            Nokia's KaiOS phones are an interesting bunch; I note that the 8110 "banana" phone is down to around £45 these days when it used to be £80 I think? They're just launching the 2720 flip phone too, at £89 pre-order. Hmmm.

            Ooh, I've just spotted a Nokia that looks very much like our B550H phones, but with 4G and KaiOS - the 800 Tough. Pre-order at the moment, but looks like it'll be around £110...

            M.

    2. Roj Blake

      Re: Is there an option?

      Doro make phones for technophobic OAPs. One of theirs might suit you.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Coverage where I am on 4G is pretty poor indoors and often I only get 3G signal, so basically that means if both 2G and 3G get switched off I would have no service at all indoors.

    How is that progress?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I live in a rural area and indoor coverage is usually provided via Wi-fi calling

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just rural locations

        I live on the south east coast and I regularly lose any form of data signal - indoors or out. Switching off 2G seems premature to say the least.

      2. Lazlo Woodbine

        I don't know about you, but I hated it when my phone switched over to wifi calling, the lag and echo were abysmal so I switched it off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I don't even notice when my phone goes to WiFi calling. Its only the symbol at the top when I go to hang up makes me realise.

      3. Serenfach

        To enable wi-fi calling , your internet must be above 1mg. There are lots of areas who do not get this speed. I currently get around 0.5mg.

        I was with Orange, and had a phone signal. I was moved across to EE who then promptly switched off 3G in this area. There is 2G if I go outside....lovely with Welsh weather! I can also get 4G if I drive the car half a mile. The electricity supplier tried to force an electricity meter on me but there was no signal, which had them scratching their heads!

        I live a mile off a major road in Wales....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But you could run 4G on the 2G frequency and masts and you'd get signal again, but better. That's why they're turning them off, to free up that frequency for other use.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As Mr Burns would say...

    Excellent! Way to force people to buy new phones, even though their old (and not-so-old) phones work perfectly well. And all those poor saps who allowed themselves to be bullied into having 'smart meters' installed will have to have them upgraded too! (rubs hands with glee at the thought of all that profit to be made).

  6. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    FAIL

    On the other hand

    Switching off 2G just as the smart meter installation rate passes 80% would be a good way to get rid of the smart meter craze!!

    Note there are a large number of older phones (and tablets) that require 2G for calls and networking. In many areas of the UK 2G is the only available type of network. (Also a number of burglar alarm systems and fire alarm systems use SMS to call for help.)

    Realistically 2G should not be disabled for at least 20 years with at least a 10 year countdown.

    However much money the network operators may save will be outweighed more than 10 to 1 by the costs to 2G users that will need to buy new equipment.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      Realistically 2G should not be disabled for at least 20 years with at least a 10 year countdown.

      Indeed. What we could do today, though, is to mandate that new devices (phones, smart meters, security systems, etc.) that use the cellular network must support 4G/5G/whatever, so that no new legacy kit that needs 2G is being installed. Then, when the 2G network is shut down there will be hardly any devices that need it still working.

      It's just like the digital TV switchover: if we'd banned the sale of analogue-only televisions a decade before the switchover there would have been far fewer complaints when analogue broadcasting stopped.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        @ Duncan Macdonald

        However much money the network operators may save will be outweighed more than 10 to 1 by the costs to 2G users that will need to buy new equipment.

        Much more than that, as mentioned in the article, some of the devices needing replacement cost well into 10s of thousands of quid - a few into the hundreds of grand range. That is, unless TPTB mandate that all car manufacturers must retrofit a new comms module without screwing the owner for some exorbitant fee.

        @ dajames

        It's just like the digital TV switchover: if we'd banned the sale of analogue-only televisions a decade before the switchover there would have been far fewer complaints when analogue broadcasting stopped.

        Indeed. It's a complete farce that there were still analogue only sets being sold well after some areas had already gone fully digital - and only a short time before the last of us changed over. I can foresee a similar issue with radio - I wonder how many current DAB sets are also DAB+ capable ?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: On the other hand

          "I wonder how many current DAB sets are also DAB+ capable ?"

          Mrs Brown wanted a DAB radio/CD player a year or so back. It took some effort to find a something that was reasonably priced for the kitchen and had DAB+. The cheap stuff, forget it. High end stuff, most (bit not all!!) had DAB+

          (Why she insisted on the CD player, and actually uses it, I have no idea. Every CD we've ever bought has been ripped to the server in the attic and can stream to devices all over the house)

          1. Andrew Jones 2

            Re: On the other hand

            One day the server will fall over / the hard drive will fail / it will generally be unavailable to the network.

            At which point Mrs Brown will say - "I'm glad I still have my CD Player"

            Don't get me wrong, I'm the same - everything on media servers, but I make sure the CDs and DVDs are easy enough to get access to....

            1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

              Re: On the other hand

              And with offline backups, too. Not that I care, I don't care should it all disappear. I read.

            2. quxinot Silver badge

              Re: On the other hand

              That just means you're using the originals as a form of backup. What about the media that you lack originals of, say digital pictures of the family? Can't trust the SD/CF cards to last forever in unaltered/usable state.

              Need a more robust strategy, IMO. And once you have one, you no longer need the physical media. If it's free to store, keep them, surely--but play the what-if game harder for where you lack originals (or the originals are subject to damage (polaroids that you've scanned in but are slowly fading with the years, etc).

              Main server, backup server, backups on site, backups off site, etc.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken

      Re: On the other hand

      "Realistically 2G should not be disabled for at least 20 years with at least a 10 year countdown."

      Heh. I agree with you, but nobody will switch over unless they're forced to. Everybody will say "I have plenty of time" until the last minute. Then there'll be a panic during the last six months as people realize the end is nigh. One month before the end, the decision will be made to extend the deadline because nobody is ready. Everybody will relax and go back to their normal state of putting off the transition until the last minute...

      And thus it always goes.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        "And thus it always goes."

        Did you have to bring Brexit into it?

        Oh...sorry....that just sounded all so familiar :-)

    3. DaLo

      Re: On the other hand

      How many people and businesses are prepared for the PSTN and ISDN switch off in 5 years time?

      How much PSTN and ISDN kit is still available to buy?

  7. Chris the bean counter

    Reduce 2g bandwidth

    I expect they can keep 2g but still free up a lot of bandwidth currently dedicated to 2g as volumes decline to miniscule.

    1. Chris the bean counter

      Re: Reduce 2g bandwidth

      Why the thumbs down? Is it becaust it is technically impossible ? If so would have been helpful if you had replied with a reason. Thanks

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reduce 2g bandwidth

        There's a bunch of grumps around here that just downvote posts for no reason - or at least, with no explanation.

        Even worse, daring to mention it will get you downvoted even more!

        I can't answer your 2g question, but expect both your posts, and mine to be downvoted further!

        1. Lazlo Woodbine

          Re: Reduce 2g bandwidth

          These would be the same people who "dislike" videos on you tube

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reduce 2g bandwidth

            Same people who probably comment on Slashdot / Reddit / downvote YouTube and comment in the Metro and Daily Mail.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you, big Telco, want to switch off 3g/2g, fine, but you can pay for the replacement equipment needed by me and my nan, who has a 2g-based lifeline service. Alternatively, leave it running as someone else said, for a guaranteed 20 more years so much of the problem will go away one way or another. Hi, nan!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not just about the networks benefitting.

      2G is hogging loads of bandwidth that could be more effectively used by modern technology.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        2G is hogging loads of bandwidth that could be more effectively used by modern technology.

        I'm far from certain that Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/WhatsApp/Cat pictures (to mention but a few) are an effective use of any technology.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm far from certain that Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/WhatsApp/Cat pictures (to mention but a few) are an effective use of any technology.

          I'm sure that at some point, probably in the not-too-distant future, somebody will post on Facebook that they've seen a Instagarm post of somebody Tweeting about seeing a cat picture on Whatsapp...and then the whole Internet will just implode

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            on Facebook that they've seen a Instagarm post of somebody Tweeting about seeing a cat picture on Whatsapp that someone copied from facebook, which was copied from someones Tumblr repository of funny Snapchat pictures. Pictures someone copied from an old Hives profile

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's not just about data. It's about getting more from the same frequency.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Fortunately someone found a way to decide if 2g or cat pictures is the best use of the bandwidth

            It's called money.

            If legacy 2g is important and switching all the handsets is expensive then the network charges will simply increase until it reaches what people would pay for higher band use of the frequency

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              It's not just the handsets though. It's all the monitoring gear and alarm gear linked to to 2G text alert gateways and the like. Loads of it in the building services industry and the utilities companies. As well as domestic alarms and panic buttons.

              Of course the smart meters will be no loss, but all the above going means dead people and ruined infrastructure. And there's lots of it, in hard to reach places that isn't getting replaced on anything less than a 5 year timescale. And that would be bloody tight and expensive I suspect.

              Plus 2G coverage is better than 3G/4G, so how much of that monitoring gear won't be able to be upgraded?

        3. Jeffrey Nonken

          Nonsense and balderdash. Cat videos are the _best_ use of bandwidth!

      2. ivan5

        Ah, you want more bandwidth for the shepple to watch cat movies on their smartphones while crossing the road without watching.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if the networks could provide plug in 2g-4g converters - provide a very low power 2g interface for old gear and send it out over 4g, kind of like a personal hotspot.

    I suppose the main problem would be whether the existing 2g kit would automatically scale back its broadcast power by enough to make it possible to repurpose the 2G spectrum?

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      I wonder if the networks could provide plug in 2g-4g converters

      Eh? So as a 2G phone user I have to buy another bit of kit (a converter) to carry round with me? Is that your idea?

      No thanks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No. You'd upgrade your phone. It would stop working and be replaced either by you or the network. I prefer the former, but that's academic.

        I'm talking about fixed equipment that uses 2g, like remote data reporting stations that would cost ludicrous amounts to replace.

        1. AVee

          One of the main reasons they are expensive to replace is the fact they are remote. Getting somebody qualified to thousands of locations all over the country is expensive regardless of the hardware. So even if such a converter would be a feasible option it still would not fix the cost issue.

          That's not to say hardware costs are not an issue. 4G modules are still 4-5 times more expensive compared to 2G only, even in bulk last I checked. For certain applications that will double or triple the total hardware cost. For that reason alone there's plenty 2G only hardware still being produced and deployed...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if the networks could provide plug in 2g-4g converters - provide a very low power 2g interface for old gear and send it out over 4g, kind of like a personal hotspot.

      Sorry, but I really don't have enough time to explain the reasons why that idea just won't work in practice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well thanks, that was helpful...

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        In practice you have 4 choices.

        Replace the entire box with a new 5g version.

        Add a separate converter box to 5g

        Pay the telco whatever they demand to use the valuable bandwidth for your kit instead of new business.

        Or pay more to lobby to keep 2G than all the telcos and internet giants are paying to lobby for 5g

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I understand 2G is old, and in our society older stuff (and staff) has to go, but everybody seems to forget we're talking about a tool here: You wouldn't install a stereo HiFi loudspeaker for an alarm siren, and 2G is what's best for technical applications like alarms and such: Better coverage and low price.

      Obviously carriers would like to drop everything except the shiny new 5G, and so what if it only works in big cities, that's where the good money is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        2G isn't better for technical applications because it uses far more radio spectrum than is nowadays necessary.

  10. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    Smart metering

    However, 2G is still relied on by [...] applications such as smart meters

    Funny you should say they...only yesterday a 12m high mast appeared in the middle of my village. It transpires that the mast is part of an network that Arquiva are building of several hundred masts to provide coverage for smart metering.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well..

    they will have to prise out of my cold dead hands my 18 year old Nokia 3310 (and ,yes, you can still buy batteries for them). It does everything I want and I never have to worry about bullshit notifications e.t.c. And, NO FUCKING ADVERTS

    Cheers… Ishy

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes you think about other technologies which are long in the tooth and seemingly outdated but which still seem to be hanging in there because there is some use case or other which justifies it.

    For example, broadcasting Radio 4 on LW. Not that I've got anything against Radio 4 (licence fee is worth it for that alone, etc.) but really how much does it cost and how many people use it and genuinely couldn't listen via another means? Even if there are times it's genuinely useful, couldn't it be stood up as needed (e.g. Daily Service, shipping forecasts, etc) rather than running fulltime?

    1. Tom Wood
      Mushroom

      Radio 4 is one of the few things keeping us from nuclear war.

      https://www.businessinsider.com/bbc-radio-show-may-be-preventing-nuclear-apocalypse-2018-8

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Devonport, Scotland

        ... crackle-crackle.. this is BBC Wadio 4. If yu in command of Woyal Nawy nuclear submawine, yu are comwanded to surface nao and bwoadcast position. Special ship with wed flag will come to welieve crew.

      2. eionmac

        Surmise, based on old research when in experimental military establishments, (1960s) apart from nuclear arsenal being triggered, Long Wave radio transmission is also listened to by land units. Cessation of signal for time X might involve land units taking action.

    2. sebbb

      Well, think about time signal via LW which controls the so-called "radio controlled" clocks. It pretty much covers the entire world via giant masts around the continents, with powers of a few hundred kW, when they could use GPS... but the circuitry to put GPS in clocks would make them more expensive and complex to build, hence it's just easier to keep going with that.

    3. Lazlo Woodbine

      The LW signal travels hundreds of miles out to sea - hence the Shipping Forecast is broadcast on the Long Wave band of Radio 4

    4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Radio 4 longwave

      The LW transmitter also sends out data signals by phase modulating the transmission at a low data rate (25 bits/sec). These signals (among other uses) switch some dual rate electricity meters from one rate to another. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_teleswitch for more details.)

      (I did some work on this system back in the days of the CEGB.)

    5. ivan5

      Especially when there are areas that are not covered by anything other than 2G. Now if the telcos would up their game and improve service to ALL areas some of us might get a 4G service if we are lucky,

    6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      You bastard! You've mentioned the shipping forecast, and now I can't get 'Sailing By' out of my head. I'm whistling it at my desk, in fact.

      Worse I'm having flash-backs to all those times that England lost a wicket "because" radio 4 cut out TMS for a shipping forecast - and the shipping forecast always gets a wicket. Except when it doesn't of course (perhaps because you wore your lucky underpants)...

      ...Dogger, Fisher, Germans Bite...

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Coat

        Quote

        ...Dogger, Fisher, Germans Bite...

        Now you're really bringing on the flashbacks to my days working(ha) for HM government when we were messing about in boats and listened to the shipping forecast so we'd know what sort of weather to expect...... mind you it was generally far more accurate than the drivel the 'weathermen' on the local TV station spouted.....

        Meanwhile back at the 2G debate... turn it off... anythign that feks up the 'smart' meters sounds good to me

        Coat... because its going to be wet up on deck...

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Also Braces Tower - The General Synopsis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-UirSlleP4

  13. imanidiot Silver badge

    "ageing 2G networks"

    2G started going online in 1991. So most of the networking is less than 25 years old probably. Old by IT standards, but if it's infrastructure, not really all that old.

  14. zb42

    My 2G phone works for three weeks between charges, making a couple of short calls.

  15. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Please, please turn off 2G

    Then that will stop that stupid waste of money that is being spent on 'Smart Meters' dead in its tracks.

    Another case of two Government Offices right next door to each other denying each others existence.

    Normal Service in Westminster then.

    Anyway, once we leave the EU with a crap deal we won't have any money for food let alone luxuries like phones.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Please, please turn off 2G

      > Then that will stop that stupid waste of money that is being spent on 'Smart Meters' dead in its tracks.

      Sorry to rain on your parade but it only means there will be a new pork barrel to replace all the existing smart meters with newer, 5G ones.

      The industry never complains when a government forces people to buy unnecessary stuff.

  16. Peter Christy

    Meanswhile, outside the metropolis...

    ... we're lucky to get *ANY* kind of a signal at all! I live in a big-ish seaside town, near one of our only remaining fishing ports, and at home, the ONLY signal I can receive is EE! So much for consumer choice!

    If I stand on the top of a nearby hill, I can get 4G. Anywhere else, and not a G in sight!

    Welcome to the 21st century!

    1. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: Meanswhile, outside the metropolis...

      Exactly the same for me, I'm near Morecambe and my only signal is from EE and it only works in one room indoors

      After Storm Desmond our local mast was out of action so we could get a signal from across the Bay at one spot on the sea front with many people crowding round to phone relatives to tell them what was happening...

    2. the Jim bloke
      Coat

      Re: Meanswhile, outside the metropolis...

      complete inability to find a G spot

      maybe ask a woman?

      politely, of course.

  17. nagyeger
    FAIL

    3g phones still available

    There are still a lot of smartphones on sale around here that are 3G only, 2year warantee. I'd missed the end of 3G was getting near, but I expect there's going to be a whole heap of angry customers if they really pull the plug on 3G next year.

    And then there are the phones that advertise 4G, but when you look at the specs are only FDD or only TDD, and the networks don't say what they actually offer....

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: 3g phones still available

      3G phones will also do 2G surely?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, that smart meter I've got in my house uses 2G?

    I knew it was on the mobile network... but it's not long been put in - does this mean that all these smart meters are going to need replacing on a relatively frequent basis?

    (relative to the meter it replaced which was as old as the house, built in the 70's)

    That seems like alot of work / carbon emmisions / waste / money for something that is supposed to reduce all of those things!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      I doubt that as far as money goes they were always going to make it but not, of course, for customers.

  19. caffeine addict

    The Cambridgeshire village of Papworth Everard (that which used to have the hospital) isn't "rural", but it doesn't have reliable 2G, 3G or 4G.

    Here's an idea. Make it so that we can "roam" in our own bloody country. As soon as Vodafone drops out, let my phone automatically switch to EE. Or whatever. And make the telco pay a decent charge to the new provider as punishment for having a shit network.

  20. upsidedown

    Australia has already switched off 2G services with the largest telco (Telstra - formally government owned) having announced the future switch-off date for their 3G services, they have given about 5 years notice and no longer sell any phone that don't support 4G. They followed a similar process for the 2G switch-off. Vodafone and Optus then followed Telstra's lead to switch-off 2G. I wouldn't be surprised if they also followed in a similar timeframe for the 3G switch-off.

  21. Z80

    Dual SIM phones

    It seems that many dual SIM phones only support 2G GSM on the 2nd SIM? This appears to be the case for my Nokia 2.2.

    I'm going to Japan soon and will buy a tourist SIM there because roaming rates are of course insane, but it will be data-only because for some reason Japan doesn't trust non-residents to have a Japanese phone number??

    To receive texts with OTCs if I need to use online banking I'll be taking my 3G flip-phone from 2007 as Japan never had a GSM network - they came up with their own standard. I could just take my bank card reader but this way just seemed more pleasingly silly.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are reasons to do this

    Phone makers would really like to be able to drop support for 2G & 3G before long and go LTE and 5G only. Cellular providers would like that too as they could drop the circuit switched voice and go VoLTE/Vo5G only. There shouldn't be any concern about coverage - if you are covered by 2G or 3G somewhere and not LTE, if they shut down 2G & 3G frequencies and bring those up in LTE then you'll have the same coverage.

    They probably have a pretty good idea of customers who have old pre-LTE phones, and can offer them deals to see if they'll upgrade. And eventually force them to upgrade (they can give them cheap LTE phones to replace their cheap 2G/3G phones for free) The trick will be specialized stuff like alarms and smart meters. We're lucky in the US that we don't have the same installed base of that crap so we should be pretty much LTE only by the end of 2021. At least that's what the four major carriers are planning, maybe some regional carriers will take longer I don't know.

    Sounds like it might take longer than that across the pond.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: There are reasons to do this

      "Sounds like it might take longer than that across the pond."

      Yes, being a physically small country with a fairly dense population and pushing the mobile telcos for maximum geographical coverage meant we had a pretty decent 2G network which then got used for all sorts of stuff other than just making phone calls. All the mobile telcos are, be default, national entities, we don't have regional networks, so they are competing against each other over the entire UK meaning no local monopolies. There's probably similar situations in other countries too, particularly Europe, so turning off 2G would be a major undertaking over a long period of time. It will cost a lot of money, either for a few Telcos maintaining an older technology or for millions of people and business to upgrade all their kit.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: There are reasons to do this

      So my phone won't work when I'm outside (no signal inside) my house in the US. That's brilliant news - not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are reasons to do this

        Your phone's coverage has to do with the frequency range being used, NOT whether it is 2G, 3G or LTE. If frequency X where you live is currently 2G or 3G and they shut off 2G/3G and go LTE/5G only, and that frequency X is now used for LTE, you'll have the same coverage with it you do today.

        If you have no signal inside you'll still have no signal inside, but you'll have signal outside at least. Your solution is wifi calling. I live in a low area near a creek, and have crappy reception on my first floor, upstairs is a bit better. When wifi calling became available my problems all went away, even though I still have only one bar (or sometimes even no signal) sitting on my couch watching TV.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: There are reasons to do this

          Please ignore comments about it not working inside the house. I was actually referring to

          We're lucky in the US that we don't have the same installed base of that crap so we should be pretty much LTE only by the end of 2021. At least that's what the four major carriers are planning, maybe some regional carriers will take longer I don't know.

          My calls phone does 3G not 4G has no wifi capabilities so wifi calling is out. So it wouldn't work inside or out even if there was signal but no 3G. Also the phone was new this year so I'm not looking to replace it anytime soon.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There are reasons to do this

            So your phone doesn't support half of the available signals but the blame for poor signal is apportioned elsewhere.

  23. Knoydart

    Simultaneous 2G and 4G carriers

    Some of the equipment vendors offer simultaneous 2G and 4G services in one block of spectrum. The reality is that for M2M connections, only a small number of 2G carries are required, as your smart meter or other connected systems only have to phone home once or twice a day. Here in NZ, there is only one operator left running a commercial 2G and I think that will run until around 2025 when their existing M2M contracts expire. My guess is that they will shut down public facing 2G connections however few years before, as the number of non 4G phones dwindles to a tiny amount, and they (somewhat cynically) just have to mop up the handful of users who rely on it by throwing a bit of cash or hard luck at the 2G punters.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voda can't/won't make VoLTE work for me

    I bought my phone handset-only, and have a SIM-only contract.

    Sony phone is VoLTE (and voice-over-WiFi) capable, but apparently I require a Vodafone "modem file" to do VoLTE/VoWiFi on their network (there's a telefonica file there now) - but Vodafone seems to have no mechanism to supply the modem/config file...

    So it's still 2G voice for me (3G coverage was poor, and is already being scaled back)

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Voda can't/won't make VoLTE work for me

      So long as I can have a candy bar phone that isn't android or any variant of, IOS or windows phone then that's fine. I need my candybar phone for calls only and a five day standby battery life. I've got a smartphone for WhatsApp, browsing, VLC etc. That needs charging once a day. I don't want or need all those fripperies on my calls phone draining the battery.

      When I've got a non touchscreen waterproof candybar phone with a removable battery that does 4G and has a standby battery life of a week then feel free to switch off the 3G network. Until then bugger off.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. localzuk

    Coverage

    Between work and our nearest "big" town, 4G coverage is about 30%. 3G coverage about 30%, 2G around 30% and then total blackspots about 10%. 5G coverage is non-existent, and won't be for a long time.

    So, companies considering turning off 3G or 2G are effectively saying they'll reduce the coverage in this area of Somerset to about 30% total. Because that'll be great for business. Bearing in mind there's a good 70,000 people who live in the area too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coverage

      No. Companies that are considering turning off 3G or 2G will reuse that spectrum for 4G.

      So you'll get the same number of bars but you'll be able to do more with it.

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