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.