The network operator Telefónica with its brand O2 announced that it would shut down its last 300 locations with the UMTS technology on Thursday. The company wants to use the freed-up frequencies for the faster successor 4G. Competitors Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom pulled the plug on the outdated 3G standard back in the summer, and Telefónica also began to switch it off step by step. The technology was “getting on in years, so we will replace it at the end of the year,” said Telefónica Germany boss Markus Haas.
What is out of date today was innovative and in great demand a good two decades ago: an auction of UMTS licenses carried out in 2000 brought around 50 billion euros into the state’s coffers. In retrospect, that was far too much, the telecommunications industry lacked the money for the expansion, and dead spots continued to shape Germany’s mobile phone card for a long time. In the meantime, the telecommunications companies have improved their networks and are currently focusing on the ultra-fast 5G standard when expanding.
The consequences of the 3G switch-off for consumers are minor because most smartphones have long been 4G-compatible. Problems only arise with old smartphones – you can then only make calls with them using the 2G standard, which all three network operators continue to offer. According to “Verivox”, all branded smartphones that have been released in Germany since 2016 have been 4G / LTE-capable. This has been the case with Apple since 2013. (dpa / rs)