Thousands of Australians risk losing service in 2G network shutdown

THOUSANDS of Australians could discover their mobile phones are as useless as bricks next week when the country’s largest 2G network is permanently switched off. 
It’s the beginning of the end for the network that delivered phone calls during the Sydney Olympic Games but will be completely phased out in less than a year.
Experts warn as many as 250,000 Australians are still using the network and some will be unprepared for its demise.

Telstra will be the first carrier to switch off its 2G network on Thursday next week, at which time anyone using a 2G mobile phone or a 2G SIM card will no longer be able to make phone calls or send text messages. Even calls to emergency services may no longer connect.

Telstra device management director Andrew Volard said the company had been contacting its 2G customers for the past 18 months in “text messages and physical letters” to warn of the network shutdown.

But he said some customers might not know their old SIM card was unable to deliver a modern mobile connection.

“Some people might have a more recent devices, like a 3G or 4G phone, but they still have a 2G SIM card,” he said. “You could look at the physical SIM card, to see whether it has 2G on it, or check the indication on your phone in case it shows 2G, GPRS, or Edge.”

In addition to 2G phones, including old favourites like the Nokia 5110, some medical devices and security alarms also use 2G network connections and may stop uploading information.
“Users need to make sure their doctor but also the supplier of the equipment knows the 2G network is shutting down,” Mr Volard said. “We don’t want people to get caught short.”

Telstra’s 2G network will be the first to shut down, but Optus will retire its 2G service in April next year, and Vodafone will follow in September.
An Optus spokesman said the company would contact customers before Christmas to explain the changes.

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