The days of the 2G and 3G networks are numbered in many European countries. Their shutdown – also known as sunset – is on the horizon. (Photo: © jannka3147/123RF.com)

2G switch-off: experience and outlook

News

Switzerland has it already behind it. For many other European countries, the shutdown of the 2G network is yet to come. This will affect the emergency call systems in lifts.

by Bernd Lorenz

Silvia Glaus-Zinder was surprised by the query of LIFTjournal. "We’re usually slower than our neighbours. For us, the shutdown of the 2G network is long gone," explained the managing director of the Association of Swiss Lift Companies (VSA). The final switch-off took place in April 2021.

In Switzerland, the lift sector and lift operators had a lengthy period to prepare for the conversion of the emergency call systems. "The biggest provider, Swisscom, had already contacted us in 2015, which meant we could begin to raise awareness at an early date," Silvia Glaus-Zinder recalled. An estimated 100,000 out of 250,000 lifts in Switzerland were affected by the 2G switch-off. Thanks to the good cooperation with the three network operators, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt, the conversion "went off without a hitch".

Photo: © TechSverigePhoto: © TechSverige

By contrast, there will be much less time for the conversion in Sweden. The sector organisation, TechSverige, and the four mobile communications network operators launched the campaign BytNätNu in 2024 to provide information on the impending switch-off of 2G and 3G at the end of 2025.

Long lead time necessary

Many emergency lift call systems operate with 2G technology. Manufacturers have for some time been investigating the scenario their customers can expect upon the switch-off of the 2G network. However, a switch-off of the mobile communications network operators at short notice would probably find them, as well as others, largely unprepared.

"Without advance notice, the existing material and production capacities would quickly come up against their limits," Michael Puttrus, managing director of Safeline Germany, already warned last year in the article "Two years until potential GSM shutdown". In addition, the capacities of the installation companies and the decision-making processes of the lift operators also had to be taken into account.

Availability in Germany

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and o2 Telefónica already switched off their 3G networks in 2021. 2G was only to remain available until 2025. However, according to the three mobile communications suppliers, this date no longer applies.   

"Vodafone expects that the switch off of the 2G technology will occur in phases up to the end of 2030," explained a spokesman of the group in response to our query. The exact schedule might vary a little from country to country. Vodafone pledged that a smooth transition from 2G to other networks would be guaranteed. 

"Deutsche Telekom has not yet announced any specific date for the switch-off of the 2G network!" a spokesman of the company made clear. "Consequently, the operation of emergency call systems remains secure." The third network operator took a similar stand. "At o2 Telefónica, 2G will for the time being remain the basic network for mobile telephony and SMS," a spokesman of the mobile communications network provider stated in response to a LIFTjournal query.

However, both companies recommend their customers adopt a future-proof setup. The spokesperson of Deutsche Telekom had the following advice, "When making new acquisitions and scheduled replacements, devices or services should support modern technologies, such as 4G/LTE and 5G." The spokesperson of o2 Telefónica added, "By switching to terminals with 4G/5G or featuring Voice-over-LTE functionality for mobile telephony using the 4G/LTE network, customers are investing in a powerful, efficient and futureproof network."

Availability in Austria

And what is the situation in the neighbouring country of Austria? "In Austria, GSM (2G) serves as a basic or access network for elementary mobile services, such as telephony, SMS and data services with low data volumes. Consequently, Magenta Telekom currently has no plans to stop supporting 2G services. They will remain until at least 2030," explained a spokesperson of the company.

This connection will also remain active at A1 Telekom Austria until further notice. By contrast, the 3G network will be gradually phased out by the end of 2025. According to the press office of "Hutchison Drei Austria", there were likewise "no plans" for switching off 2G. 3G was something else. By the end of this year, 3G/UMTS is to be successively switched off from region to region to make room for 5G.

Inform operators

Silvia Glaus-Zinder has a tip for the lift sector of countries where the switch-off of 2G and 3G is impending. "Get into contact with the network operators early on and let the lift owners know that the witch-off and costs associated with the emergency call systems’ conversion is not your decision," advised the VSA managing director.

After all, the reason for the switch-off was that that due to the increasing growth of the data volumes transmitted, the network operators were making alternative use of the frequencies that had become free. "Watching smartphone videos or reading the paper requires corresponding resources."

Switch-off of the 2G and 3G network

Plans exist in various European countries to switch off the 2G/GSM network and/or the 3G/UMTS network. The staff of the LIFTjournal enquired at the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications and/or the mobile communications network operators regarding their switch-off schedules. No information or only incomplete data were available to us for the countries not listed in this overview. We are endeavoring to complete the overview. 

Austria

Provider: A1 Telekom Austria1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: phased 2025

Provider: Hutchison Drei Austria1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: switch-off by end of 2024

Provider: Magenta Telekom1

2G/GSM: will be preserved until at least 2030

3G/UMTS: switch-off 2024 

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Belgium

Provider: Orange2

2G/GSM:  active until at least the end of 2027

3G/UMTS: switch-off in the course of 2025

Provider: Proximus2

2G/GSM: active until at least the end of 2027

3G/UMTS: probably by the end of 2024

Provider: Telenet/Base2

2G/GSM: active until at least the end of 2027

3G/UMTS: switch-off from September 2024

Source: 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Bulgaria

Provider: A1 Bulgaria2

2G/GSM: switch-off after the 3G switch-off 

3G/UMTS: switch-off is being reviewed, but there is no specific date yet 

Provider: Vivacom2

2G/GSM: switch-off after the 3G switch-off 

3G/UMTS: switch-off is being reviewed, but there is no specific date yet

Provider: Yettel2

2G/GSM: switch-off after the 3G switch-off

3G/UMTS: switch-off is being reviewed, but there is no specific date yet 

Source: 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Croatia

Provider: A1 Hrvatska2

2G/GSM: switch-off not yet decided

3G/UMTS: switch-off not yet decided

Provider: Hrvatski Telekom1

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS: switch-off by January 2025

Provider: Telemach Hrvatska2

2G/GSM: switch-off not yet decided

3G/UMTS: switch-off not yet decided

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Czech Republic

Provider: o2 Czech Republic2

2G/GSM: operation must be maintained until 30 June 2028

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: T-Mobile Czech Republic2

2G/GSM: operation must be maintained until 30 June 2028

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Vodafone Czech Republic2

2G/GSM: operation must be maintained until 30 June 2028

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Denmark

Provider: TDC Net1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off; if a switch-off does occur, it should be announced two to three years in advance 

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Telia Denmark1

2G/GSM: switch-off until 2030

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Tre1

2G/GSM: no service

3G/UMTS: expected in 2025 or 2026

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Estonia

Provider: Elisa2

2G/GSM: switch-off expected by 2030

3G/UMTS: switch-off planned 

Provider: Tele21

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned at present; possibly after 2030

3G/UMTS: switch-off planned by the end of 2025

Provider: Telia2

2G/GSM: switch-off expected by 2030

3G/UMTS: switch-off planned

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Finland

Provider: DNA2

2G/GSM: to be maintained by the end of 2029

3G/UMTS:  switch-off January 2024; switch-off of the shared network of DNA and Telia Finland in east and north Finland in the course of 2024

Provider: Elisa2

2G/GSM: to be maintained by the end of 2029

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Telia Finland1 2

2G/GSM: to be maintained by the end of 2029

3G/UMTS: switch-off in the course of 2024; switch-off on the Åland Islands planned for 2024

Provider: Ålcom2 (only Åland Islands)

2G/GSM: switch-off planned for 2024

3G/UMTS: no switch-off planned

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

France

Provider: Bouygues Telecom4

2G/GSM: switch-off 2026

3G/UMTS:  switch-off 2029

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: switch-off by the end of 2025

3G/UMTS: switch-off by the end of 2028

Provider: SFR4

2G/GSM: switch-off 2026

3G/UMTS:  switch-off 2028

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 4 Report of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) of June 2023

 

Germany

Provider: Deutsche Telekom1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: o2 Telefónica1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Vodafone Deutschland1

2G/GSM: phased switch-off planned by the end of 2030

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Great Britain

Provider: EE2

2G/GSM: no concrete plan for the switch-off, but it should be completed by 2033 at the latest 

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Three2

2G/GSM: no concrete plan for the switch-off, but it should be completed by 2033 at the latest 

3G/UMTS: switch-off expected until the end of 2024

Provider: VMO22

2G/GSM: no concrete plan for the switch-off, but it should be completed by 2033 at the latest 

3G/UMTS: switch-off 2025

Provider: Vodafone2

2G/GSM: no concrete plan for the switch-off, but it should be completed by 2033 at the latest 

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Greece

Provider: Cosmote1

2G/GSM: no specific date for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Vodafone1

2G/GSM: Vodafone intends to phase out this technology from 2030. The precise timing will vary country-by-country.

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Hungary

Provider: Magyar Telekom4

2G/GSM: in operation until further notice

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Vodafone4

2G/GSM: in operation until further notice

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Yettel4

2G/GSM: in operation until further notice

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 4 Report of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) of June 2023

 

Iceland

Provider: Nova2

2G/GSM: probably the end of 2024

3G/UMTS: probably the end of 2025

Provider: Síminn1

2G/GSM: planned switch-off by the end of 2025

3G/UMTS: planned switch-off by the end of 2025

Provider: Vodafone2

2G/GSM: planned switch-off by the end of 2025

3G/UMTS: planned switch-off by the end of 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Ireland

Provider: Eir2

2G/GSM: no switch-off notified to the national regulatory authority for telecommunications ComReg to date

3G/UMTS: no switch-off notified to the national regulatory authority for telecommunications ComReg to date

Provider: Three Ireland2

2G/GSM: no switch-off notified to the national regulatory authority for telecommunications ComReg to date

3G/UMTS: no switch-off notified to the national regulatory authority for telecommunications ComReg to date

Provider: Vodafone2

2G/GSM: no switch-off notified to the national regulatory authority for telecommunications ComReg to date

3G/UMTS: currently switch-off in phases

Source: 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Italy

Provider: Telecom Italia1

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Vodafone1

2G/GSM: Information on the switch-off is currently not available as Vodafone Italia is to be sold to Swisscom.

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Latvia

Bite2

2G/GSM: switch-off is planned, but no specific date has been announced yet

3G/UMTS: no plans for switch-off known

Provider: LMT1

2G/GSM: technology will be phased out in the future, but no concrete decision has yet been made on when it will be shut down

3G/UMTS: phased shutdown until the end of October 2024

Provider: Tele22

2G/GSM: switch-off is planned, but no specific date has been announced yet

3G/UMTS: phased switch-off already underway in regions with good 2G, 4G or 5G coverage

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Liechtenstein

Provider: Salt5

2G/GSM: switched-off

3G/UMTS: switch-off not before 2027

Provider: Swisscom5

2G/GSM: switched-off

3G/UMTS: switch-off end 2025

Provider: Telecom Liechtenstein5

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned (yet)

3G/UMTS: will be switched off successively

Source: 5 Information of the Office for Communication of the Principality of Liechtenstein

 

Lithuania

Provider: Telia Lithuania1

2G/GSM: switch-off planned by the end of 2029

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Luxembourg

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: phase-out by 2030 at the latest

3G/UMTS: switch-off until 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Netherlands

Provider: KPN1

2G/GSM: switch-off by December 1, 2025

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Odido1

2G/GSM: switched-off

3G/UMTS:  no specific date for the switch-off

Provider: Vodafone Ziggo1

2G/GSM:  will be preserved until at least the end of 2026

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Norway

Provider: Telenor1

2G/GSM: switch-off from 2026

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Telia1

2G/GSM: switch-off in the course of 2025

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Poland

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: phase-out by 2030 at the latest

3G/UMTS: switch-off by 2025

Provider: Play2

2G/GSM: no switch-off until 2030

3G/UMTS: planned switch-off by 2030

Provider: Plus2

2G/GSM: no switch-off until 2030

3G/UMTS: planned switch-off by 2030

Provider: T-Mobile2

2G/GSM: no switch-off until 2030

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications


Portugal

Provider: MEO2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: NOS1 2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS:  will be gradually shut down from June 2024

Provider: Vodafone2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS: will expire from July 2024

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators; 2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Romania

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: phase-out by 2030 at the latest

3G/UMTS: switch-off until 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Serbia

Provider: A1 Telekom1

2G/GSM: no plans for the switch-off

3G/UMTS: to be switched-off in 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 

Slovakia

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: phase-out by 2030 at the latest

3G/UMTS: switch-off until 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

 


Slovenia

Provider: A1 Slovenija2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned in the next few years

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: T-22

2G/GSM: no service

3G/UMTS: in operation until further notice

Provider: Telekom Slovenije2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned in the next few years

3G/UMTS: switched-off

Provider: Telemach Slovenija2

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned in the next few years

3G/UMTS: in operation until further notice

2 Information of the national regulatory authorities for telecommunications

 

Spanien

Provider: Orange1

2G/GSM: phase-out by 2030 at the latest

3G/UMTS: switch-off until 2025

Provider: Telefónica1

2G/GSM: switch-off expected around 2026-2030

3G/UMTS: switch-off expected around 2026-2030, starting with 3G

Provider: Vodafone Spanien1

2G/GSM: no switch-off planned

3G/UMTS: will be switched-off by 2025 at the latest

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators


Sweden

Provider: Tele23

2G/GSM: switch-off by end of 2025

3G/UMTS: switch-off by end of 2025

Provider: Telenor3

2G/GSM: switch-off by end of 2025 

3G/UMTS: switch-off by end of 2025 

Provider: Telia3

2G/GSM: switch-off by end of 2025 

3G/UMTS: switch-off by end of 2025

Provider: Tre3

2G/GSM: switch-off by end of 2025 

3G/UMTS: switch-off by end of 2025

Source: 3 Information campaign #BytNätNu of the organisation TechSverige and the four mobile communications network operators


Switzerland

Provider: Salt1

2G/GSM:  switched-off

3G/UMTS:  no specific time plan for the switch-off

Provider: Sunrise1

2G/GSM: switched-off 

3G/UMTS: mid-2025 

Provider: Swisscom1

2G/GSM: switched-off 

3G/UMTS:  switch-off end 2025

Source: 1 Information of the mobile communications network operators

As of: 04.07.2024

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