03 November 2022
South Africa’s government has outlined a roadmap to shut down the country’s 2G and 3G mobile networks by March 2025. The plan is contained in the ministry’s draft policy of Communications on the Next Generation Radio Frequency Spectrum and has been approved by the Office of the President.
Minister of communications Khumbudzo Ntshavheni announced the government’s ambition to close the 2G and 3G networks to free up frequencies for 5G and 4G services back in 2021. According to the new policy, June 2023 will see the licensing of 2G devices prohibited. A ban on new connections or activation of 2G devices will follow in December, with a shutdown of 2G services and networks scheduled for the first half of 2024. A similar process for 3G would begin in the second half of 2024 and end in March 2025.
The approval of this policy comes six months after the country organized the auction of the spectrum of telecoms broadband frequencies. Following this sale, telecom operators acquired frequencies located in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands, suitable for the provision of mobile broadband services using 4G/ LTE and 5G.
While some telecom operators had already planned to switch off their 2G and/or 3G networks, obstacles remain, like the high cost of 4G and 5G compatible devices. Additionally, 2G and 3G networks remain widely used for machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.