3G Switch off could cause "digital poverty"
Vodafone to switch off 3G network in June (From BBC News 11 May 2023)
Published 12 May 2023
Campaigners have warned that Vodafone turning off its 3G network will lead to people with older and more basic phones falling into "digital poverty.
Vodafone will be the first UK telecoms firm to stop providing 3G when it begins a nationwide phase-out in June. Vodafone says it is working to support vulnerable customers, but campaign group Digital Poverty Alliance has criticised the switch-off.
Vodafone UK's chief network officer, Andrea Dona, said 3G use had "dropped significantly" - with less than 4% of its customers' data being used on its 3G network, compared with more than 30% in 2016.
He said that meant it was now "time to say goodbye to 3G and focus on the current benefits and future possibilities of 4G and 5G networks".? The company says it is working with third parties, including charities, to help customers.
Vodafone has worked with a body called We Are Digital to set up the Digital Skills Helpline (0800 987 4110), which is free to call from all UK mobiles and landlines.
Digital Poverty Alliance says 14 million British people rarely engage online, with 18% of adults relying on their phone to access digital services. It said switching off 3G would have "detrimental effects".
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