EE will switch off 3G signal next month – send this simple text to find out if your phone will still work

a woman makes a phone call on the platform of a London Underground train

EE has confirmed that the UK will lose 3G signal in the coming weeks as the network looks to strengthen its 4G and 5G networks

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 13/12/2023

- 14:51

Updated: 15/12/2023

- 13:34

Send the word HANDSET to 150 and EE will verify whether your phone will continue to work when the 3G network is culled in early 2024

  • EE is set to become the first UK network to phase out 3G
  • The extra spectrum will be used to boost 4G and 5G connections
  • The first areas in the UK set to phase-out 3G have been revealed

Mobile network EE will start to switch-off its 3G network for customers across the UK in the coming days. Ditching 3G, which first launched in the UK back in March 2003, will allow EE to use the extra radio spectrum to improve connectivity on 4G and 5G networks, the company says.

Unsure whether your kit is ready for a 3G-less world? EE will check whether your phone is compatible with 4G and 5G, as well as offer advice and support with the migration process, when you text HANDSET to 150. You won’t be charged for the text from an EE number.

EE first announced plans to ditch 3G signal nationwide back in 2018.

If your phone won’t work without 3G and you’re registered as vulnerable with the network, EE will send a 4G-compatible handset to you free of charge.

In most cases, if you’ve purchased a phone in the last decade (the first 4G-compatible handsets arrived on the UK store shelves in 2012) you’re likely already ready for the big switchover.

The first locations set to enjoy enhanced 5G connections after EE has ditched 3G signal UK-wide in early 2024 have been revealed as...

  • Belfast
  • Darlington
  • Uxbridge
  • Dartford
  • Solihull
  • York
  • Dagenham
  • Hayes
  • Harringay

  • if you live in one of these areas, you should find your signal becomes faster and more stable as the spectrum previously occupied by 3G is reallocated to the newer technologies.

    a photograph of an EE mast in a rural area

    By ditching 3G signal from its spectrum, EE will be able to strengthen its 4G and 5G connections, which covers 99% and 72% of the UK population, respectively


    EE isn’t alone – all major mobile networks have pledged to cull slower 3G connections in the coming months – but it is the first to begin the process.

    There's no precise date for when customers can expect to see 3G vanish, but EE has confirmed that it will have eradicated 3G from the airwaves by March 2024.

    Other networks will take a little longer to complete the process. Vodafone and Three are aiming to complete the switchover by the end of next year.

    Virgin Media O2 isn’t scheduled to start winding down its 3G network until 2025 at the earliest.

    Ahead of the switch-off in January, EE a trial in Warrington and found “no customer complaints about network coverage or performance", it also reported “no capacity issues on either our 2G or 4G networks, despite a natural rise in traffic as more people relied on them every day.”

    EE is keeping around its older 2G network for a few more years. Despite being older technology, and offering even slower speeds than 3G, the 2G spectrum is often used as a last resort in rural areas and works as a low-power way to call emergency services.

    Several popular Smart Meters and other connected home devices rely on 2G connections.

    According to EE, its speedy 5G network reaches 72% of the UK population, while its 4G network reaches 99% of people nationwide. 5G offers lower latency, faster connections, and improved speeds in busy areas, like packed stadiums and train stations which can be a struggle for 4G.

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