Telstra Closing 2G GSM Network By End 2016

Written by Alex Zaharov-Reutt      24/07/2014 | 16:57 | Category: INDUSTRY

Telstra's 2G GSM network which kicked off the digital mobile era is being switched off at the end of 2016.

Telstra Closing 2G GSM Network By End 2016
If you're still using an old 2G mobile phone on the 2G Telstra network, like the various candy-bar shaped Nokias that were once so popular and ubiquitous, you've got until the end of 2016 until it's completely switched off. 

2G GSM technology ushered in the digital mobile era, succeeding the earlier analog mobile phone standard that once supported early and very expensive mobile phones the size of portable briefcases in the 80s. 

The news comes fresh from a Telstra blog post by Mike Wright, Telstra's Group MD for Networks, who says the GSM network "was the mobile system that changed the world", which it did "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."

The GSM network is also the one that "introduced us to International roaming, text messaging and the early mobile Internet" - which certainly brings back memories of the WAP protocol which didn't quite live up to the initial hype. 

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Mr Wright explains how he became involved in the rollout of 2G in Australia early in his career, and how he is "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", whom he believes are owed a great debt by the world at large. 

Telstra's 2G network has already been in operation of over 20 years, and of course was once the best and most advanced mobile technology you could get, but as Mr Wright states, times change. 

Nowadays we have 3G, 4G and even 4G LTE-Advanced networks in Australia, with speeds, features and coverage that were once but a pipe dream. 

Mr Wright talks of how Telstra customers have progressively been moved off the 2G network since the Next G network launched in 2006, with so few customers still using 2G that all 2G traffic now accounts for less than one percent of total traffic. 

He notes that Telstra hasn't sold a 2G phone for several years either, and while the 2G switch off is still just under 2 and a half years away, Telstra felt it was time "to call a sunset for this world changing network technology". 

While it's not mentioned in the blog post, Telstra is likely to "re-farm" the 2G spectrum for use with 4G and other future mobile networks, something it has done before when the old CDMA network was switched off in the mid-2000s. 

Telstra won't abandon its 2G customers, however, and will use the next 2 and a half years to help remaining customers transition to the 3G and 4G networks by contacting them to explain the changes and let them know their options.  

Minor difficulties may arise for some of Telstra's retail customers who have a 3G phone but may have forgotten they're still using an old 2G SIM card, as they'll need to get their SIM card switched over without charge, while others will have to eventually abandon their old 2G handsets and upgrade to a new one with 3G/4G.  

Telstra advises customers who may have smartphones but aren't sure if they're still on the 2G network by looking at for the network connectivity marker, often at the top left of your smartphone's screen. 

If it says 3G, H, H+, 4G or LTE, you're already good to go. If it says G, GPRS, E or EDGE, you're using the much slower 2G network for voice and data. 

Also, while Telstra doesn't mention it, if your phone does say 2G or EDGE or GPRS but you thought you did have a 3G or better SIM, you might have manually switched your phone to the 2G network in the settings, as many smartphones allow. 

Visiting a Telstra store will also help anyone who isn't certain as their in-store technical people will surely be happy to help.  

Telstra also invites its customers with questions or who want to upgrade their handset or SIM card to visit its Help and Support page.