Use Telstra? You may want to read this
Telstra customers on the telco's early 3G network will soon be forced to upgrade their handsets or face using the much older and slower 2G network.
The company will cease to provide mobile services on their early 3G network, known as 3GIS, as of August 31. They said the technology has been superseded by the more advanced Next G network, which operates on both 3G and 4G, and there was little sense continuing to invest in old infrastructure.
Customers who use their mobile phone or modem to surf the web will likely experience their data speeds slow.Telstra's Mike Wright
"We're encouraging customers who use their device in Next G coverage areas to upgrade to Next G compatible handsets and mobile broadband devices," said Mike Wright, executive director of Telstra Networks. "They can take advantage of faster data speeds and wider network coverage."
The change will affect "a very small fraction" of Telstra customers with older handsets that are incompatible with the Next G network. They will still be able to use their devices for phone calls, text messages and light browsing on the 2G network. But the speed of intensive browsing, such as YouTube streaming or Telstra's mobile Foxtel service, will suffer significantly for customers with incompatible handsets.
"Customers who use their mobile phone or modem to surf the web will likely experience their data speeds slow if they continue to use a device that operates its 3G functions of the 2100MHz band - rather than the 850 MHz band," said Mr Wright.
Telstra first warned customers about the upgrade process in 2010, and with the exception of the LG watch phone, have not offered handsets that only work on 3GIS for five years. But customers who bought their handsets in or before 2007 may be affected by the changes.
Customers who have purchased an incompatible handset outright, from another telco, or from overseas and have since moved to Telstra may also be forced to upgrade. The 3GIS network operates almost exclusively in major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Vodafone also affected
3GIS was created in 2004 as a joint venture with Hutchison (3 Mobile, which now merged with Vodafone) and utilises the 2100 MHZ band, whereas Next G operates on 850MHz band. Given that it was a joint venture, analysts are looking to see how Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) migrate their customers who originally used the 3GIS network with 3 Mobile.
"The bigger impact is: will the Vodafone network provide the same level of service for those 3 customers that the 3GIS network did in the past?" said Chris Coughlan, director of research consulting at Telsyte, a technology analyst firm.
Mr Coughlan said that many Vodafone customers fed up with the company's issues over the past 12 months will now be coming out of contract with the telco, and may be turning to other carriers. "It will be a while before VHA emerge from that situation," he said.
But the move away from 3GIS will free up the network for newer technologies. "Exiting services on the earlier 3GIS network will allow Telstra to focus its ongoing investment on the Next G network," Mr Wright said.
The winding down of the network comes as Optus today announced it will upgrade much of its 3G network to 3G Plus, using the same technology employed by Telstra's Next G network. Telstra also announced last week that it will increase some local and mobile phone call prices in order to combat a perceived threat from the national broadband network.