Back in 2013 there was widespread coverage as the analogue television signal was switched off throughout Australia. The aged and technophobic were delivered a stern warning; upgrade now or face long evenings tuned into nothing more than the black and white crackle of analogue static.
In 2016 the same demographic face yet another technological obstacle, with consequences that are in some ways far more significant than that of severed late-night entertainment. But this time, strangely, the warnings are nowhere near as evident.
3G and 4G smartphones are so ubiquitous these days that it’s hard to remember life before them. For most owners they form the pivot-point from which to direct all of life’s traffic, whether that life be represented in a home, social or work capacity. For these very same people it would be hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t appreciate, let alone care for, the perks that constant connectedness brings.
But for every Yin there’s a Yang, and the Yang in this case is embodied by those that are stoically holding onto their 2G handsets.
2G, the second generation of wireless telephone technology, began life in 1991. By the turn of the millennium it had become the gold standard of mobile networks, and the phones that were built for it – most notably the Nokia 2000 and 3000 ranges – have since become classics. But as internet-connected smartphones began to take hold and the data requirements expected of providers began to increase, 3G was soon installed as the network of choice for mobile users. And on we’ve gone since to 4G and 5G.
But there was nothing particularly wrong with 2G, nor the phones that it spawned. Indeed, those classic Nokias were renowned as almost indestructible, had batteries that would last for days between charges, and were incredibly cheap to buy. Couple that with the fact that you are able to both call and text on these enduring machines (you know, those things that you originally needed a phone for), and it’s no wonder that a percentage of the population never saw the need to upgrade.
But the times, they are a-changin’. As of the 1st of December this year, Telstra will blow out its 2G candle, with Optus following suit in April 2017.
Do you need to be worried about the upcoming 2G network cut-off apocalypse? Let’s have a look at which mobile users will be affected.
So called ‘dumb’ phones are commonly characterised by a numbered keypad and a black and white screen. But these traits aren’t universal across all 2G handsets. Indeed, if you imported the original iPhone from the US back in 2007 it’ll be just as useless come the end of the year as a Nokia 3310. If you’re unsure whether your phone will work on the 3G network it’s best to check its 3G connectivity online on a site such as gsmarena.com using the brand and model number.
It may well be that your phone is entirely capable of using the 3G network, but you simply have to upgrade your SIM card.
It may well be that your phone is entirely capable of using the 3G network, but you simply have to upgrade your SIM card. A simple way to check whether your SIM card is limited to the 2G network is by checking the type of signal it receives. If your phone always displays either 2G, GPRS or EDGE next to the signal strength it’s likely that it uses the 2G signal, and that the SIM card – if not the phone – needs to be upgraded.
It should be said that 2G usage represents less than 1% of total network traffic, and for their part Telstra and Optus have promised that they’ll advise 2G users of their phones’ impending obsolescence well in advance, probably via text message.
But fair warning may still not be enough warning for those who have been attached at the hip – quite literally – to their beloved Nokias for the last 15 years.