With the inexorable growth of 5G and later 6G mobile networks the UK Government has announced the closure of 2G and 3G networks. This is to encourage the smooth transition to faster, more advanced 5G, and public ambition for Open RAN rollout as part of the Telecoms Supply Chain Diversification Strategy.
A Radio Access Network (RAN) provides radio access and assists to coordinate network resources across wireless devices. The goal is to carry 35% of the UK’s mobile network traffic over open and interoperable RAN architectures by 2030. Achieving this will contribute to nationwide security and resilience.
Sunsetting 2G and 3G networks
The Government is working with industry to establish a date by which all public 2G and 3G networks in the UK will close. Although 2033 is the final date, some individual operators will switch off their 2G and 3G networks in 2023. Without doubt, sunsetting will free up bandwidth for 4G and 5G.
Yet, according to Vodafone, this may not be the case for 2G as most emergency services use a 2G network. The 2G network also provides the emergency services with extra information to assist them in responding to emergency calls. Moreover, many of the smart meters installed in the UK use 2G or 3G, so cost becomes a major factor.
5G is important for business
Says Paul Craig, Head of IoT at OV, “there’s a revolution coming. It will happen slowly, perhaps over decades. But, if its instigators get their way, this new technology will be the backbone that enables advances such as smart cities, driverless cars, remote controlled operating theatres, automated farms and more besides.”
Writing in BCS, Martin Cooper says. “5G operates with lower latency, resulting in less time waiting for wide bandwidth and fast data transfer. Yet, this is more about machines rather than delivering hi-definition video to a mobile phone.”
“Turn your eye to the internet of things, AI and to robotics, and the use-case for 5G makes sense. Bandwidth, through-put, predictability, and low latency need all to exist in abundance if we’re to make these technologies industrial-scale realities. In a 5G world it would be possible to manage factories remotely in real time. 5G is also a key ingredient in making driverless cars a reality. Without a dependable data connection, autonomous vehicles would be downright dangerous. Imagine arriving at a radio blackspot, chaos would ensue. Also consider a world where containers would be tracked in real-time as they traverse the globe. It’s hard to understate the potential of 5G.”
But what about today?
Firstly, 5G is still in the early growth phase and there will be no 6G roll-out for many years yet. A good starting point is a comprehensive audit of which network technologies devices you are already using. Next confer with the supplier to consider upgrade paths such as dongles, upgrades or rethinking the installation.
For those with in-building 3G, they need to contact their network provider for a survey if they have not already done so. It may not be all devices as some may connect to 4G. The key point is that taking no action risks complete disruption as the network will stop working at some point. 5G offers a longer-term solution as unlike 2G and 3G it uses IP networking.