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23 Jul 2014
By Mike Wright
Jul
23
2014

It’s time to say goodbye old friend

Filed under: , ,

network-tower_hero

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.

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Posts: 35

41 Comments

  1. Hasan says:

    It’s really great to see Telstra lead by example. And I am sure the sooner we can drive convergence to LTE (LTE-Advanced, Broadcast/Unlicenced etc..) it will give much needed scale to make LTE device become affordable faster, enabling us to enjoy the benefits of most efficient Radio technology available to-date. Look forward to see Telstra bring CA in phases like 700+2500, 700+1800+2500, or even unbeatable low band CA combination 700+850+900 that very few other country have.

  2. Blue says:

    The biggest market to be affected will be vehicle tracking. Yet another business expense to the early adopters.

  3. Ben says:

    does this shutdown include GPRS for commercial users? such as parking meters, POS terminals, alarms systems…

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Ben, The good news is that these systems can use 3G services and we’ll be in contact with any customers running these services over 2G to discuss transitioning to 3G or setting up an alternative solution. :)

  4. matt says:

    What about areas that have 2G coverage only and no 3G/4G? For example, Christmas Island?

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Matt, All areas of Australia that are covered by the 2G network are already fully covered by our 3G service, which also extends well beyond the 2G coverage footprint. The only exception is Christmas Island and it will be excluded from this programmed closure. I hope this helps clarify! Thanks, Jamie.

  5. Steven says:

    So who is going to pay for the new phones that many pensioners and disabled people will need? My wife and I are both disability pensioners, and have 2G prepaid phones (and a spare each). This is digital TV all over again. We have TV’s and VCR’s that are useless because there is no longer an analogue signal. Our TV’s and VCR’s had to be replaced at own own expense, even though there was nothing wrong with them.
    If Telstra is shutting down the 2G network, then they should replace every 2G phone with a comparable 3G or 4G phone at Telstra’s cost.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Steven, I’m really sorry for the inconvenience of having to get a new device. I would suggest popping into your closest store to chat about options – we have a range of plans and options available for all customers at different price points. Thanks, Jamie.

      • Steven says:

        The inconvenience isn’t the issue, it’s the cost. I will have to replace 4 working handsets (as well as car chargers etc). Who pays for that?
        You shut the network down, you should pay for new handsets and ancillaries.

      • Jamie says:

        To be fair, if you buy a computer from say Harvey Norman and in 4 years time it can’t run the new generation of Windows, Gerry or Bill doesn’t buy you a new PC.

        In saying that I agree that “by the end of 2016″ is too vague and needs to be a bit more specific. They have given 2 years notice though which is worth noting I think.

  6. FearTec says:

    What about embedded devices that are used with cards like this (http://www.dfrobot.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=673#.U9CxZ3lZpaQ ) / GPS/GPRS/GSM Shield V3.0 (Arduino Compatible)

    Will they still work?

    What frequencies are going ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM_frequency_bands ?

  7. Andrew S says:

    Goodbye 2G, so testing for voice over 700Mhz is the future way to go. With the 3g network can you activate the Cell ID service on this network that is available on the current GSM Handsets, thus providing your current area you are in displayed on your phone as a cell broadcast message.

    • Hasan says:

      wrt 700 Voice It’d be interesting to see how soon VoLTE takes off, given the challenges of device power consumption worse than CS Voice & IMS take-off on the Network side for LTE.

      • Andrew S says:

        Oh well i’m sure the techs are working on it!
        Still use the Nokia 5110 cause is got the direct antenna connection for the car kit. Not like the passive induction car kits that have loss of reception!.
        Wasn’t 2g 900 supposed to back up 3g.

      • Jamie (Editor) says:

        Hi Andrew S, I thought you might like to know that we don’t rely on 2G as a congestion aid, we actually have a range of options available to provide additional coverage and capacity to reduce congestion. In the next 2.5 years we will continue to add more capacity to our 3G and 4G services on the Telstra Mobile Network too :)

      • Andrew S says:

        So Telstra 2g not used as congestion aid compared to other competitors systems. Still waiting on the Telstra tower at Para Vista to get upgraded to 4g 1800Mhz and possible 700Mhz in 2015.
        With LTE what I would like is 700Mhz USB Data Stick device with antenna connection, Telstra currently only have Wireless box that covers 700Mh LTE Data.

  8. anthony says:

    Hi , I use 2G Telstra prepaid vouchers . Some months I spend $60 , some $10 . I call and send sms’s only , no need to find out the weather or sports results . So I have a cheap phone . What do I do with a new handset cost , what do I do then for re-charging ?? Thanks

  9. Anwar says:

    I was feeling a bit sorry for the electricity distributors having tens of thousands of smart meters using GSM modems to send metering telemetry data to head office.. But then I realised it will be us “the customers” that will be paying for theses to be replaced. :(

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Anwar, All of these services can be delivered over 3G. :) We will be in contact with any customer running these services over 2G to discuss transitioning to 3G or setting up an alternative solution.

      • George says:

        I note -- they can be delivered over the 3G network -- the point I think Anwar is saying is the upgrading and replacement of the 2G / GSM modems to 3G/4G modems will come at a cost and someone needs to pay for this.

        We have multiple GSM modems installed so we will need to upgrade them by the time you get the hardware, configure the hardware and the labor to replace it -- it will have a cost of $500-700 per site.

        We can’t cover this cost so it will need to be passed on to the customer.

      • Anwar says:

        Hi, Here is an example: The cost to visit each electricity customer site to upgrade the electricity meter from a 2G modem to a new 3G version and reseal the meter would be lets say $500 per site, for the sake of round numbers. Estimate 10,000 business customer have electricity smart meters with 2G modems for revenue metering in South East Queensland alone, that is a $5 million dollar exercise for the meter owner (retailer), who then passes these costs onto customers. Every monitored fire alarm panel in Queensland has a GSM and PSTN dialler required by law, again maybe 10,000 of these and again lets say $500 per site so another $5 million to upgrade. Home alarm systems with GSM SMS modems, Vending Machines, GPS vehicle trackers… The list goes on. Like the migration from analogue TV to digital there needed to be a plan phase out these devices over much longer period. Many of these businesses worked on ROI periods of 10-15 years for GSM modems installed only in the last few years.

  10. Gandanga says:

    Hi;

    Most of you phones have 3G at 900 MHz disabled, will this change going forward?

    Is it possible to enable 900 MHz on old phones? When will we see phones supporting both 850 and 900 MHz plus 2 100 MHz?

    Thank you for your help.

    GT

    PS
    0-4=four, too!

  11. Leslie says:

    What will you do about roaming? Do you have roaming agreements that will let international visitors use 3G for voice?

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Leslie, Most international roaming customers have devices that are capable of roaming onto our 3G or 4G services we will work with the overseas providers to make sure their customers are properly advised about how to get connected when they come to Australia. :)

  12. Peter says:

    I have been advised by a vehicle GPS tracking company that our current modems will not accept a 3G sim and the units will need replacing. Is this correct?

    We have also been advised that it will happen late 2014. Am I to assume this is incorrect and is a sales effort to get us to upgrade to later technology.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Peter, Unfortunately I can’t advise regarding any other companies. I do know that the Telstra 2G network won’t close until 2016 though. Thanks, Jamie.

  13. Gary says:

    Ok so here we live in Jilliby NSW not more than 6ks from a tower and have no signal at all on the 3G network.

    Options include smart antenna at a cost of $720 or a Yagi ( self install) at 290! or for those that can afford it a sat phone @ 2K +

    So to hell with those on properties and yes my 3G telstra phone has no coverage here.

    To emphasis telstra covers 99% of Australia. In this day and age of technology and the push for advancements in it a simple coverage for mobile coverage cannot be achieved.

  14. Nick says:

    I’ve got around 50 Motorola devices which are 2G only, and a little over $2,000 each to replace.
    I’ve got a handful of other systems where I know the vendor is using 2G devices for general reporting and management. Not sure the cost but I’ll be the one billed for that.

    For telstra to say that only 1% of traffic is on 2G, that’s them being very selective on their measurement. These devices are typically highly critical but lightweight messages of a few KB every now and again compared to the average consumer pulling a 100 MB Youtube and constant messaging of rich media….of course the raw volume is a low percentage. As for Telstra saying ‘we’ haven’t sold a 2G handset in years, they know fine well that all their partners are still selling them today.

    And finally, ‘by the end of 2016′? What does that mean? Do I need to assume some regions will be gone sooner?

    Frankly, we need more notice on this to the START of decommissioning.

    • Sean says:

      The modems would more likely be 3g is Next G 850 MHz not 2G. witch is 900 MHz. If it is 3G 850MHz you will be fine. Next G 850 MHz. 2G is very slow with data and it’s like dialup speeds or worse.

  15. Clayton says:

    It would seem that Telstra has ignored the many data transmission modems in this country that use 2G and the considerable cost to replace. Yet as usual, they expect to see this cost passed downwards to the end user. It is not the end users decision to close but the network providers so I feel they should shoulder some of the responsibility in regards to cost.

  16. Andrew S says:

    My family as well as others in the Port Broughton community, seniors and the disabled still use old handsets on the Telstra 2g network for their simplicity, long battery life and durability.

    Also Telstra don’t have any handsets now that support the direct antenna connection eg: Patch Lead that some of the old nokias have.

    Last phone to have the direct antenna connection was the Telstra (ZTE) tough phone that is now not available. Ideally I would expect the 2g shut down would be in 2020.

  17. Cameron says:

    Good to be made aware early.
    However my company uses a range of 2G & 4G modems in remote locations all around Australia, so I would like to know if is their a shutdown schedule we can monitor to confirm we are switching over correctly, and will have 4G Network available?
    Otherwise we will have to look at a contingency plan for some sites.

  18. TechnoTim says:

    Problem is that there are not 3G replacements available for many of the low cost 2G M2M devices in the market! Many 3G versions cost 10 times that of the 2G variant which is going to make for an expensive upgrade for many people. :(
    Clients requiring basic SMS monitoring and control will have to upgrade to expensive units with un-needed features at great cost. Sad :(

  19. Boogle says:

    On the 1st of August Anwar posted a comment (more of a series of questions really) which are most relevant to our usage of 2G, and I notice that no response by the Editor! Was this an omission or ignoring the “elephant in the room”.

    There are probably 100′s of thousands of current generation 2G GPRS Devices out there and two years is simply not enough time to transition to devices in our case are not even available.

    The suppliers of our 2G product (in Europe) have no immediate plans and see no need for a 3G replacement product.

    Our customers are small business which will not be able to afford to just upgrade both the devices and the back end software.

    This decision is so short sited and lacks indepth analysis. The original writer obviously has not taken into account that many Telecoms suppliers are selling and connecting many new GPRS 2G Devices Daily.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Boogle, as I’ve previously mentioned, we’ll be in contact with any customer running services over 2G to discuss transitioning to 3G or setting up an alternative solution. Thanks for your feedback regarding the writing, I will pass it on. Thanks, Jamie.

      • Boogle says:

        Thank you for the reply. On reflection I trust that once Telstra begins to interact with the current users it will “see” the magnitude of the user base (and the total infrastructure that goes with it), and hopefully, in typical Telstra style work with the users to achieve a workable way to move forward. I eagerly await interaction with the appropriate Telstra people (not just Sales People please!!!). Here’s hoping.

  20. Tammee says:

    What about the thousands of “Monitored 2G Alarm” systems all over Australia. We only installed a 2G Alarm system 24 months ago and no-one did or has bothered to inform us about the 2g closure.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Tammee,

      The good news is that it won’t be closing until 2016, and before it closes we’ll be in contact with any customer running services over 2G to discuss transitioning to 3G or setting up an alternative solution.

      Thanks,
      Jamie

    • Sean says:

      You would find it’s 3g 850 or 2.1ghz. 900MHz 2g would be too slow for the alarm and your sim would be fine. I haven’t herd of Telco provider’s having 2G sim cards for years in Australia on any network. 3g 850 or 2.1 GHz has simler speeds or faster to ADSL or Cable internet without a speed pack on the plan. Telstra’s 3g (Next G) 850 MHz will be around for years to come.

      • Boogle says:

        Discussion about SIM cards in isolation is just not relevant. It is the GSM infrastructure that is the issue, and that the Modules in the 10′s if not 100′s of thousands of Devices only transmit and receive on the GSM Network.

        The statement “The ………… Network will be around for years” has been said many times before about Networks that have been long gone.

        The main problem is from where the money comes to replace all of the Devices.

        Let’s look at a typical User scenario. A small Security Company has 70 Devices with integrated GSM Data Modules in them which they have progressively purchased over the last 3 years (including 5 about two months ago) @ $890.00 that’s $62300.00 plus the back end system @ approx. $20,000.00 which will require extensive upgrade at best, if not complete replacement to provide a workable migration path. How are they possibly are they going to fund this??!!! Then multiply this by say 10,000 as a possible quantity of other User Systems that equates to over $820,000.000 and it is probably a lot more as my example is a very small user.

        Telstra says ” before it closes we’ll be in contact with any customer running services over 2G to discuss transitioning to 3G or setting up an alternative solution.”

        I doubt this means that Telstra will subsidise the replacement of the devices we would have to supply (in order to remain as a Supplier to the Customer) to migrate to 3G. I simply don’t think that the “big picture” has been considered here when indications are that Europe at least are retaining the GSM Networks, and comments from some Telecomms luminaries in the past are that GSM Networks will/should be retained for low level Data M2M purposes.

        But time will tell I guess…..

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