Austria: Outdated mobile communications technology 3G/UMTS is being switched off

August 22, 2023

Timely switchover to 4G/LTE is also recommended in the industrial environment

According to information from the most important mobile network operators, the switch-off of 3G/UMTS technology has begun and is also to be completed over a large area in Austria in the next few months. Due to the resulting reversion to 2G, a certain security of supply is guaranteed for many devices, but it should be enjoyed with foresight and caution. This is because with 2G, the available bandwidth is limited to maximum data rates of 220 kbit/s in the download and 110 kbit/s in the upload, which may no longer be sufficient for many telecontrol applications in the industrial environment, for example.

Switch-off accelerated by 5G technology

The switch-off of 3G was accelerated above all by the extremely rapid network expansion of 5G mobile technology. It requires the widest possible frequency spectrum for high transmission speeds, which leads network operators to free up frequencies that are no longer needed or only little used. Since the third generation of mobile communications, also known as UMTS, HSDPA/HSUPA, HSPA+, is less in use in many regions than the older 2G network, it is obvious to deactivate the 3G network and leave 2G active as the basic service for the time being.

Gradual changeover to 4G by the end of 2024

Already at the beginning of the year, A1 Telekom Austria communicated that it would start with the gradual deactivation of the old mobile technology 3G. Thus, from February 2023, the first UMTS frequencies were switched off in Carinthia and Salzburg and by the end of 2024 the gradual switch-off of 3G/UMTS (below 900 and 2,100 MHz) is to be completed throughout Austria. The frequencies thus freed up will be used for the network expansion of 4G/LTE and, above all, 5G. In order to further modernise the network, in addition to A1, Magenta (T-Mobile Austria) also announced in the first half of the year that it would discontinue its UMTS service from 2024, which also affects the provider Drei. Drei itself has already reduced the spectrum used for 3G over the last few years. Very recent is the information from the provider BOB, which also uses the A1 network, that it will also no longer support 3G from 2024 and will continuously replace it with 4G.

For mobile router expert DI (FH) Günther Lugauer from BellEquip, the Lower Austrian system provider of infrastructural solutions for the efficient and secure operation of electronic applications, the 3G switch-off comes as no surprise: “This step towards network modernisation has already been taken in many countries around the world, as 2G and 3G technologies no longer meet the growing demands in terms of internet speed,” and he adds, “We recommend that our customers switch to 4G/LTE solutions as soon as possible in order to be able to continue telecontrol systems in a future-proof manner and not risk any downtime. “

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