South Africa’s Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has announced plans to shut down South Africa’s 2G and 3G networks by 2025. The proposal has now been published for public comment.
The plans, contained in the ministry’s next-generation radio frequency spectrum draft policy, highlight the finite nature of radio frequency spectrum and its importance to various industry sectors and the economy as well as digital connectivity in general. Hence, one assumes the urgent need to find more.
Thus, the policy suggests, June 2023 would see the licensing of 2G devices prohibited. The prohibition of new connections or activation of 2G devices would follow in December, with a shutdown of 2G services and networks planned for the first half of 2024. A similar process for 3G would begin in the second half of 2025 and end in March 2025.
As the website MyBroadband points out, this won’t be easy, given the cost of 4G and 5G-compatible devices. In late 2021 Vodafone internal data is said to have estimated that in South Africa alone, 6 million 2G devices are sold every year, and about 14 million customers are still using 2G phones. The ongoing use of 2G IoT applications could be another issue.
As for operator readiness, MTN has said it may switch off 3G first. Vodacom had originally announced (in 2019) plans to turn off its 2G network by 2024. Telkom has already shut down most 2G services.