Orange to phase out 2G and 3G by the end of the decade

Orange becomes latest mobile network operator to use spectrum for 4G, 5G and other future services, making transition in what it says will be a seamless and balanced two-step approach, with one technology to be switched off by 2025 and the other by 2030

In a move it says will form a major part of its plan to position itself as a leading European network operator and to bring customers optimum connectivity, Orange has announced plans to phase out its 2G and 3G networks across its European operations.

The mobile network operator will gradually phase out its 2G and 3G technologies from 2025 to 2030. The specific plans are based on a local context, taking into account network usage in each country. A phasing out programme will ensure a “seamless” migration towards an improved customer experience with minimal impact on customers.

Orange said switching off 2G and 3G technologies would enable it to optimise the management of its networks and upgrade its infrastructure towards secured, resilient, energy-efficient and modern technologies such as 4G and 5G. The radio frequencies currently used for 2G and 3G will be used to improve the overall capacity and coverage of 4G and 5G networks in urban and rural areas.

The intended result is that mobile customers will benefit from an upgraded experience with higher voice quality over VoLTE, higher throughput and lower latency for data and improved security, without any impact for “nearly all” of them.

Orange will work closely with internet of things (IoT) customers to identify among the range of future-proof technologies the best IoT connectivity alternative according to their specific needs. Orange assured enterprise customers that it would advise and support them through their migration path.

“Phasing out legacy technologies such as 2G and 3G is a major part of our plan to position ourselves as a leading European network operator and to bring our customers the best connectivity possible”
Michaël Trabbia, Orange

The decommissioning of its 2G and 3G networks will take place in two phases. In France, where national 3G coverage is historically higher than 2G coverage, Orange will decommission its 2G network by the end of 2025, with 3G phased out by the end of 2028. For the other countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain – 3G will be switched off by 2025 and 2G phased out by 2030, depending on each subsidiary’s specific plans.

“Phasing out legacy technologies such as 2G and 3G is a major part of our plan to position ourselves as a leading European network operator and to bring our customers the best connectivity possible,” said Michaël Trabbia, chief technology and innovation officer for the Orange Group.

“By removing obsolete technological layers and pooling our resources, we can focus on building future-proof, resilient, automated, energy-efficient and optimised networks. As a result, customers will benefit from more efficient and sustainable networks leading to an enhanced user experience,” he added.

“This focus on maximising the efficiency of our networks will also contribute to reducing our carbon emissions and help us meet our sustainability targets of becoming net zero by 2040.”

The sustainability and responsibility targets set out in Orange’s Engage 2025 strategy are said to have played a pivotal role in influencing the group’s network modernisation roadmap towards more energy-efficient technologies.

By anticipating the switchover now, Orange said any necessary upgrades to mobile devices and network equipment would take place within the natural renewal circle, avoiding unnecessary waste. Legacy devices and network equipment will be recycled through the company’s recycling and refurbishing programmes.

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