South Africa extends 2G/3G shutdown to end-2027

09 February 2024

South Africa's Department of Communications and Digital Transformation has set 31 December 2027 as the new deadline for the total shutdown of 2G and 3G networks in the country.

It was in September 2022 that the South African government unveiled a roadmap to shut down the 2G and 3G networks, in the first half of 2024 and March 2025 respectively. The initiative aimed to free up frequencies for the extension of the networks 4G and 5G.

The roadmap was put in place a few months after the country held the auction of broadband telecom frequency spectrum. 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.

With the shutdown of 2G and 3G, South African telecoms subscribers will have no choice but to adopt 4G and 5G. Telkom, Vodacom and MTN have already put in place timetables for switching off their 2G or 3G networks, but obstacles remain, including the high cost of devices compatible with 4G and 5G. Additionally, 2G and 3G networks remain widely used for machine-to-machine and IoT (Internet of Things) applications.