23 Jul 2014
By Mike Wright

It’s time to say goodbye old friend

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Today we are announcing our plan to close the 2G (GSM) network by the end of 2016.

GSM, or Global System for Mobiles communications, was the second generation of mobile technology after Analog which had it’s origins in a pan European collaboration of Engineering experts. In my view it was the mobile system that changed the world and it did this by creating one of the most complete and comprehensive mobile standards the world had ever seen, this created scale, drove down cost and made the mobile phone accessible to the mass market. Along the way GSM introduced us to International roaming, text messaging and the early mobile Internet.

From relatively early in my career I became involved in the rollout of 2G in Australia and through that program and subsequent projects I am privileged to say that I have been able to get to know some of the original GSM contributors from countries such as France, UK, Sweden and more. In my view, the world owes these people a great debt.

Our 2G network has operated for more than 20 years and was once the premium mobile network for Australians. At the time, just making a phone call on the move was a novelty and Australians embraced the mobile phenomenon. But times change. 

As technology evolved and mobile phones have become smarter, customers have naturally moved to our 3G and 4G networks that offer faster speeds and a user experience that we could only have dreamed about 20 years ago. With new technologies like LTE Advanced the network is continuing to evolve even further.

Ever since we launched our world leading NextG network in 2006 we have seen customers progressively move off the 2G network. To this end we have seen steep declines in the number of customers on 2G to the point where;

  • Today 2G traffic accounts for less than 1 per cent of our total network traffic.
  • We have not sold a 2G phone for several years

In the coming years we expect to see this dwindle further as we continue to invest in our 3G and 4G technology so it’s time to call a sunset for this world changing network technology.

Over the next two and a half years we will work with the remaining 2G retail customers to help them transition onto our Australian leading 3G and 4G technologies, which provides superior coverage, faster speeds and more services than they currently receive on 2G.

Shortly we will start to contact customers who may be affected by the 2G closure to explain the changes and to provide them with their options. For Telstra Retail customers this may be simple, as many already have 3G phones but have not upgraded their SIM card. For others, they may need to change to a compatible 3G/4G handset.

For our wholesale customers, we will be in contact soon to discuss what this change means for you and how we will work with you to support transition from our 2G network

How can you upgrade from 2G to 3G or 4G services?

We have not sold a 2G only device for several years, which means that if you are using our 2G network you may already have a 3G or 4G compatible devices and will only require a new SIM card. If you think this applies to you, we encourage you to come down to your local Telstra store to swap your existing 2G SIM card for a new one at no extra cost.

You will know you’re on the 2G network if you have a 2G icon in the top right hand corner of your device. You might also see GPRS, E or EDGE written at the top of the screen.

For more information about these changes or to upgrade to a compatible device or SIM, customers can head to our Help and Support page.


Posts: 38


  1. Bruce says:

    Hi Jamie, I run a support service for some >80+ customers via Telstra POTS using modems (security industry) for >20 years now. The NBN completely destroys this service in itself, and I believe one cannot rely on Ethernet NBN ports being active during power outage for those considering to use NBN as backup! I was considering going to GPRS/GSM modem (I believe called M2M?), however with these services being shut down as well!, so how can I continue to give any support to my customer base, and,
    Will Telstra be EVER supporting such a service at all?
    This includes GSM Bosch security system devices being sold right now!
    Also companies are producing devices that boast 3 types of communication backup, but given this 2016 shutdown, even these will be useless?

    Need a plausible factual ANSWER please, as I need to know what is the safest direction to head and as many have already said, is costing $$$$$$$$$$$$.

  2. Larry says:

    The 1% traffic is not accurate, as most of the devices still using 2G are not mobile phone I guess. They are m2m units, parking meters, car tracking device etc. only sending small amount of data like few KB or even few bytes.

    One Day Traffic of 1000 this kind of devices maybe less than watching 20 minutes youtube HD movie on your iphone.

    it would be fare if say percentage of 2G devices. And I am pretty sure that gonna way more than 1%.

    Telstra is killing small business like us which have over 1000 GPRS only devices with Telstra.

    Once they stop GPRS service, upgrade all those units to 3G version will cost minimum $200 each. As rest of the world like CHina, US, Europ still mainly using 2G devices, 3G onces not widely used yet, so the cost much higher than 2g devices.

    Question is who gonna pay for the ?

    I cannot just say to my customer, sorry mate, the $100 Unit you bought last year which can works over 10 years now not working, you have to pay another $200 to update to 3G because Telstra said so.

    If we pay for it, $200K? I’d better suicide.

    I have to go now, looking for another job.

  3. Craig Buckingham says:

    Maybe it’s time that a petition went to the Federal Communications Minister.

  4. Jane says:

    How will this affect the mobile plans people are on? I am on a $10 + calls, texts, etc plan due to relatively low usage. Will I be able to purchase a new mobile outright and continue on the current plan? I would consider a mobile on a plan, but they are all too expensive for those with low usage and I get a better choice of handsets by purchasing outright.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Jane, It won’t affect your plan, but if your device is not compatible with 3G or 4G, then it will no longer work when the system is shut down. Please chat give us a call on 132 200 or chat to us online and we’ll chat through your options :)

  5. Ryan says:

    Larry had a good question, is that less than 1% traffic only based on data or sms/calls?
    We sell thousands of GPS trackers which only use about 3.36KB data per day of use and don’t require and SMS or calls.

  6. Lisa says:

    Hi Steven,
    You can get cheap 3 and 4 prepaid phone and can get great deals such unlimited talk and text for 30 dollars a month.

  7. Gordon says:

    Telstra must have been ‘talking with’ the product/service provider for our system. They just sent us a $58,000 invoice to change over the system to 3G. Got my hand down the back of the lounge now however….

    • Jamie (Telstra) says:

      Hi Gordon, Unfortunately we cannot comment on what other providers are doing. I recommend chatting with with them about your concerns.

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