Mobile network providers in New Zealand and around the world are shutting down 3G networks to make way for faster and more power efficient 4G and 5G technology. This means customers who are still using 3G reliant devices, not just phones, will need to upgrade to a newer device before the networks are switched off to retain connectivity. If you are affected, there is plenty of time and support available to make this transition and ensure you stay connected. This page will explain everything you need to know about the 3G shutdown and how it might affect you. 

Why are 3G networks being shut down? 

As technology evolves over time, older generation technology types are shut down to make way for newer and faster types. Many operators around the world, including NZ, are shutting down their 3G networks to free up space for improvements to 4G and 5G networks, which are also more power efficient.  

Shutting down 3G provides more spectrum for 4G and 5G networks bringing with it increased consumer benefits, ranging from faster internet speeds, improved call quality, and enabling faster media-rich data activities like video streaming. 3G technology was first introduced in NZ in 2009 and while it has been a reliable technology, closing these networks will free up radio spectrum that will be used to increase the availability of more capable 4G and 5G services, especially in rural areas.  

When is the 3G shutdown happening? 

Over the next 12 – 18 months mobile operators will be communicating directly with affected customers via phone calls, SMS, and email, to give them plenty of notice that this is happening and support them in the transition.  

What does this mean for customers? 

The good news is you might not need to do anything at all.  Only customers who are still using 3G reliant devices will need to upgrade to a newer device before the networks are switched off to retain connectivity.  

There are plenty of low-priced compatible options available. Some business customers have other 3G devices that will also be affected, including vehicle trackers, alarms and other systems which may use 3G to connect. Customers should contact their suppliers to discuss whether they are affected and how they can upgrade them. Specific device information is available on all mobile providers’ websites, or you can contact your mobile provider directly if you have any questions or concerns. 

You have plenty of time to transition your device/s to a 4G capable device.  

Check with your provider directly if you are unsure whether you are affected.  

How can I check if my device is 4G ready?  

Affected models vary but customers can find a list of compatible devices on their mobile provider’s website, including those models which are 3G only.   

To check your device is 4G-ready visit:  

What happens to customers who don’t upgrade? 

Once the 3G network is shut down, phones that are 3G reliant for data or calling will no longer connect. This will affect consumers ability to call 111 emergency services so it is important that consumer upgrade their devices.  

Will I still be able to make emergency calls on older devices? 

Customers will need to have a 4G or 5G capable device to make a 111 call as after the 3G network shutdown only mobile phones that are 4G (VoLTE) or 5G capable can make a 111 call. 

If you are unsure if your device is 4G capable, contact your mobile provider directly for more information.  

Other Key FAQs:

What if I didn’t purchase my phone from my mobile provider?  

To check if your device is 4G compatible visit your providers website, or contact them directly.  

Some imported phones may also lock voice calls to 3G only. Customers with these devices may need to change the settings to use 4G or 5G for voice. More information about this can be found here:  

If I bought my device overseas will it still work?   

Some phones purchased overseas or from local importers have different specifications and may not be compatible on your mobile service provider’s network.  If you have trouble connecting to 4G on your device, try downloading the latest software update and if this doesn’t help, you may need to replace it.    

Will my mobile work for international roaming?  

Operators around the world are shutting down their 3G networks, so it is (already recommended) that you have a 4G capable mobile phone to keep you connected when traveling. 

Do I need to change my SIM card when I upgrade to a new phone?   

This may depend on the type of SIM card you have and the type of device you are upgrading to. If your old SIM card fits into the new devices’ SIM card slot, then you are sorted. 

Can I recycle my old 3G device?   

Yes, you can donate your old device easily and for free via the TCF phone recycling scheme RE:MOBILE, with mailing or physical drop off options which are easily accessible.  

Drop your old device into any mobile store, or one of 480+other drop off locations across New Zealand, where they will be passed onto RE:MOBILE to make sure all reusable parts are recycled. 

Find out more at  

How do I check what coverage is available in my area? 

For coverage queries, check out your mobile providers website:  

For all other queries, more information about the shutdown can be found on each providers website here: 



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