Telenor Norway projects 2020 switch-off for its 3G network

But M2M connectivity requirements give 2G network a reprieve until 2025

Telenor Norway CEO Berit Svendsen
Telenor, Norway, CEO Berit Svendsen

Norwegian telco Telenor has outlined plans for switching off 3G, which may be a model for other operators.

Norweigians love 4G so much that the Telenor group is looking to ape America in the growth of 4G. CEO Berit Svendsen (pictured) says that the network will follow the raid adoption of 4G found in the US and Asia.

Telenor’s CTO Magnus Zetterberg told a recent investor day that 3G will disappear from the company’s airwaves in 2020, with 2G lasting until five years after that.

The network already has quite mature 4G, which handles 60 per cent of all mobile data traffic. Although as most networks report, 4G users consume twice as much data as 3G customers, it will still be a minority of people using 4G.

Voice is still new on 4G, though there is VoLTE – which Telenor has yet to launch – and other VoIP solutions. Nothing handles interconnect and roaming to the level of 3G or 4G, however, so keeping something which allows people to actually speak to one another is a pretty good idea. It’s 2G that wins out, because there are a lot of Machine 2 Machine (M2M) comms which use GSM SMS.

By giving ten years' notice to hardware manufacturers of the closure of 2G and a direction to jump straight to 4G, Telenor will help manufacturers of things like vending machines and home alarm systems phase out the installation of equipment which will see the technology become redundant within its natural lifetime.

Five years also gives Telenor time to build out its 4G network, with plans to cover 99 per cent of the population by the end of 2016.

One device which will be affected by the loss of 3G is the Tesla S. The car is hugely popular in Norway, which has a good SuperCharger network. The car relies on 3G connectivity for many aspects of its navigation, not least Range Assurance, which plans routes to take charge levels into account and schedules stops at chargers as necessary.

One Tesla owner The Register talked to about this suggested that rather than update the in-car systems, owners might run their own 4G hotspot and connect the car via Wi-Fi. ®

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