Switching off 3G and upgrading 4G/5G

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has confirmed it’ll be switching off its 3G service in 2025. As we share VMO2’s network here at Tesco Mobile, we’ll also be saying goodbye to 3G in 2025 – and we’ll be saying hello to even better 4G and 5G services.

This follows the joint statement from the Government and UK mobile networks in December 2021 that all UK networks will switch off their 2G and 3G services by 2033. This will allow a focus on upgrading faster, more reliable and energy-efficient 4G and 5G services for more people.  

VMO2’s programme will see 3G being phased out across the UK, with the service set to be fully switched off at some point in 2025. We’ll be reaching out to customers with 3G phones closer to the switch-off to explain the options.

Read VMO2’s full announcement

How to get ready for the 3G switch-off and 4G/5G upgrade

If you have a 4G or 5G phone, you don’t need to do anything.

If your phone isn’t at least 4G-ready, and you don’t swap to a 4G or 5G phone before the 3G switch-off, you may notice you can only use data or the internet when connected to Wi-Fi. You’ll still be able to make and receive calls on 2G, and send and receive texts, but you’ll get a much better connection on a 4G or 5G phone. Wi-Fi Calling may also be an option.

See our pay monthly 4G and 5G phones

See our SIM free 4G and 5G phones

Our 2G service will be switched off by 2033, but there are no immediate plans to switch this off.

Watch this space for further updates on the 3G switch-off and 4G/5G upgrades.

We look forward to offering even better 4G and 5G services once we’ve completed this network upgrade in 2025.

Frequently asked questions

Every UK mobile network has committed to switching off its 2G and 3G services by 2033. Switching off 3G will allow the networks to redirect the radio frequencies that are currently used for 3G to instead help more customers get faster, more reliable and energy-efficient 4G and 5G services.

Our 3G service is set to be fully switched off at some point in 2025, but there are no immediate plans to switch off our 2G service. For as long as our 2G service is active, our customers will be able to make and receive calls on 2G, and send and receive texts on 2G.

We’ll be getting in touch with affected customers to let them know when 3G is being switched off in their area.

Our 2G service will be switched off by 2033, but there are no immediate plans to switch this off. We’ll let our customers know when there are any updates about our 2G service.

If your phone isn’t at least 4G-ready, and you don’t swap to a 4G or 5G phone before the 3G switch-off, you may notice you can only use data or the internet when connected to Wi-Fi. You’ll still be able to make and receive calls on 2G, and send and receive texts, but you’ll get a much better connection on a 4G or 5G phone. Wi-Fi Calling may also be an option.

If you want to use data or the internet without having to connect to Wi-Fi, you’ll need to swap to a 4G or 5G phone.

See our pay monthly 4G and 5G phones

See our SIM free 4G and 5G phones

We have lots of affordable 4G and 5G phones and plans, whether you want SIM free or pay monthly. You can also pop in-store to see what we offer.

You can check if your phone is at least 4G-ready by heading to the Device guides section, or by going to your phone manufacturer’s website and looking at the details for your phone.

If your phone isn’t connecting to 4G, this may be because your phone isn’t 4G-ready. You can check if your phone is 4G-ready by heading to our Device guides section.

If your phone is 4G-ready, but it’s not connecting to 4G, you may need to update your phone settings to connect to 4G. For help with this, please head to our Device guides section.

If your phone still isn’t connecting to 4G after this, this may be because there’s a temporary issue with the 4G coverage in your area. Or you may be in an area that doesn’t have 4G coverage (although 99% of the UK is covered by our 4G service). You can find out more about our network and coverage on our Network support page.

If you don’t have a 4G or 5G phone, you’ll still be able to call the emergency services after the 3G switch-off, but you won’t be able to receive Emergency Alerts. To be able to receive Emergency Alerts, you’ll need to swap to a 4G or 5G phone.

See our pay monthly 4G and 5G phones

See our SIM free 4G and 5G phones

To send an MMS after the 3G switch-off, you’ll need to swap to a 4G or 5G phone.

See our pay monthly 4G and 5G phones

See our SIM free 4G and 5G phones

After the 3G switch-off, if you have a 3G SIM and you want to use data or the internet without having to connect to Wi-Fi, you’ll need to order a replacement SIM that’s at least 4G-ready. You can order a replacement SIM in My Account (if you’re a pay monthly customer), by getting in touch with us via web chat, or by popping in-store.

If you’re having an issue with your signal but you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you can still call as normal using Wi-Fi Calling. The same goes for receiving calls too.

When you’re on 4G or 5G, you can make and receive calls using 4G Calling (also known as VoLTE), giving you a crystal-clear connection.

With both services set up, you can start your call at home using Wi-Fi Calling, before seamlessly switching to 4G Calling when you leave the house, allowing you to stay connected on the move. You can still use the internet at the same time as well, so sending an email or checking an app while you’re on a call isn’t a problem.

On top of this, you can send and receive texts using Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling, as long as your phone supports this.

Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling (VoLTE) is only available to pay monthly customers.

You can check if your phone supports 4G Calling (VoLTE) by heading to the Device guides section.

It’s really easy to set up 4G Calling (VoLTE) in your phone’s settings. Just follow the steps for your particular phone and you’ll be up and running.

Standard calls and texts using 4G Calling (VoLTE) won’t come out of your data allowance. They’ll come out of your minutes and texts allowances, just like a normal standard call or text.

If your phone supports 4G Calling (VoLTE) and you have this service set up, and you’re connected to 4G or 5G, your calls and texts will use 4G Calling.

Your calls and texts will only use 2G if your phone doesn’t support 4G Calling (or if you don’t have this service set up), or if you’re not connected to 4G or 5G.

If your phone supports Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling (VoLTE), and you have these services set up, your phone will automatically determine the best way to make/receive a call or send/receive a text. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi and you’re in an area with good Wi-Fi coverage and good 4G or 5G coverage, your calls and texts will use Wi-Fi Calling over 4G Calling. 

You can use 4G Calling (VoLTE) in any of our 48 Home From Home destinations – as long as the service is available in that destination. Wi-Fi Calling isn’t available outside the UK, though.