What you need to know to be prepared

The Telstra 2G network has been operating for a long time, but on 1st December 2016, Telstra officially turned it off in every corner of Australia. While they did spend the months ahead of the switch off contacting those consumers who still have devices that use the 2G network, there are still a lot of people and businesses that will be affected.

Knowing what the 2G switch off means, how it affects emergency service access, and understanding how you will be affected, is crucial information for everyone, even those using 3G and 4G technology.

person holding smartphone to demonstrate Telstra turning off the 2G network

Why did Telstra turn off the 2G Network?

The 2G network was what we used in the early days of mobile communication. While it played an important role, it’s now making way for better technology. The fact that Telstra are getting rid of such an outdated technology will mean two things.

The first is that they won’t be investing in outdated technology. This will make more room for investment in more up to date technologies.

The second is that, if other providers follow in Telstra’s footsteps (and they will), the 900Mhz frequency will be freed up. The 900 Mhz band is already used by Telstra for 4G technology. By disconnecting the 2G network, space will be freed for them and other providers to increase 4G cover, and that of newer technologies.

What does Telstra turning off the 2G network mean for you?

No 2G sim card in any phone or mobile broadband device or 2G machine to machine device that connects to the Telstra network will work anymore. This has especially important repercussions for the emergency services. Any piece of important equipment should be upgraded immediately.

If you try to call the emergency services on 000 or 112 on a 2G device, it will not work on the Telstra network. However, if you are in the range of a 2G network from another provider, such as Vodafone or Optus, your device will use their network and be able to make the call.

When you’re within range of another 2G provider’s network, your screen is likely to display ‘SOS’ or ‘Emergency Calls Only’.

How can you tell if you are affected by Telstra turning off the 2G network?

  1. Check what type of SIM card is in your device
  2. Check your mobile handheld device
  3. Mobile network settings

What if I have a 3G or 4G Sim Card that sometimes shows the 2G symbol?

If you have a 3G or 4G enabled sim card and phone, it is unlikely you will notice any difference.

3G and 4G technology is designed to be backwards compatible with previous generation mobile frequencies. In the past this has meant that, in areas where the 3G and 4G networks aren’t available, your phone would have searched for a 2G frequency and used it. You would have been able to at least receive phone calls and text messages in areas where only 2G was available.

Now that Telstra has disconnected the network, it is officially gone as a backup. Now, your phone will simply show no signal. You won’t be able to make or receive calls or text messages. This excludes emergency calls, as mentioned above.

Advice for anyone with a 2G phone or device

Turnin off the 2G network is just the start

The other networks will follow.

Many older industrial devices or terminals may still use 2G  networks. This table will show you how you can access the 3G and 4G networks from your devices:


Device & SIM card What you’ll need to do
If you have a 2G SIM card in a 2G device Neither will work, so you’ll need to purchase a new 3G SIM card and a  new device
You have a 2G SIM card in a 3G/4G device Your device will still work, but you’ll need a new 3G SIM card
You have a 3G SIM card in a 2G device You’ll need a new device, and depending on which device you purchase, you may also need a new 3G SIM card
You have a 3G SIM card in a 3G/4G device Make sure that  your device network Settings are configured to ‘Auto’.

If your business operates in a rural or remote location and you have always relied on having 2G Telstra coverage, you need to act. The other providers will be following in Telstra’s footsteps and turning off their 2G networks in the future. Relying on them as backup is not a good idea.

The Big Picture

We know there is a lot of politics around new technology and the NBN at present. The fact is we’re moving forward, whether we like it or not.
The many changes in technology can seem confusing and complicated, but the truth is that they are unavoidable. If your business isn’t ready for what lays ahead, you could find yourself left behind.

The good news is that you can take steps early to make understand how your business will be impacted. A subsidised NBN-ready audit is available for your business until 31 March, 2017. If you want to make sure you’re armed with everything you need, get in touch with our team today. Being prepared for the NBN could very well be the best decision you make for your business this year.