Optus is shutting down its 2G network, prompts customers to upgrade

Virgin and amaysim customers to be affected

Optus customers may be prompted to upgrade their smartphones when the carrier shuts down its 2G voice-and-text network in 2017.

The closure of Optus’ 2G, 900MHz network is scheduled for 1 April, 2017. The move will affect carriers reselling the Optus network, including customers of Virgin Mobile and amaysim.

Calls and texts made thereafter will happen over the company’s 3G and 4G network.

Customers using older smartphones that don’t support 3G networks will be prompted to upgrade, while some will have to upgrade only their SIM cards.

The move will only affect a small number of customers, said Dennis Wong, the acting managing director of Optus Networks.

“Mobile service providers globally, including in Australia and our parent company Singtel in Singapore, are closing down 2G networks to support newer technologies.

“Our priority is to prepare our customers for this change and ensure they have sufficient time to upgrade to newer devices,” he said.

An Optus representative confirmed less than 5 per cent of its customer base will be affected by the transition.

Affected customers will be able to tell if their smartphone needs to be upgraded by looking for a 2G, GPRS, EDGE or E icon at the top of their mobile screen.

Read more: Optus discounts unlimited Internet bundles, available from $95 a month

Optus is investing in Voice over LTE technology (VoLTE), which enables voice calls to be made in high definition over a 4G network, representatives confirmed to <i>Good Gear Guide</i> in May.

A compatible smartphone is needed to take advantage of the VoLTE network, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The 900MHz spectrum currently used for its 2G network was introduced in 1993. More details on the upgrade process will be revealed to customers closer to the network’s closure.

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