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Niels Hafenrichter

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Bye bye 3G - now LTE is coming for everyone

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  • 3G switch-off at Deutsche Telekom planned for summer 2021
  • All contracts get LTE at no extra cost 
  • 3G areas receive efficient 4G supply
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From 30 June 2021, Telekom's 3G network in Germany will be switched off, making room for faster technologies.


Deutsche Telekom has the best mobile communications network in Germany (*) - and makes it a little better for its customers every day. In return, it is sending the outdated 3G technology into well-earned retirement in the summer of 2021. After Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom is now also naming the date for the switch-off of its 3G network. From June 30, 2021, Deutsche Telekom's 3G network in Germany will be shut down, making room for faster technologies.

"The 3G switch-off next summer will enable us to further improve our network," says Dirk Wössner, Telekom Deutschland CEO. "We are using the 3G frequency spectrum that is becoming available for the most modern technologies. We want LTE for everyone and we are building Germany's largest 5G network".

Around 20 years ago, the third generation of mobile communications 3G (UMTS/HSPA+) paved the way for the mobile Internet age. However, the breathtaking technology of that time has long since become obsolete. For ten years now, Deutsche Telekom customers have been surfing the Internet ten times faster and making calls in top voice quality with the fourth mobile phone generation 4G/LTE. In the meantime, the fifth generation of mobile communications (5G) is already available to more than half of the population in Germany and sets new standards. 

This is a good time to say goodbye to outdated technology. Deutsche Telekom will then use the frequencies currently blocked by 3G for the much more powerful 4G and 5G technologies. The few areas that were previously covered by 3G but not by 4G will now be provided with a high-performance 4G supply.

LTE in all tariffs without additional costs

To enable customers to use the new mobile communications standards, the tariff and the device used must support the respective technology. Deutsche Telekom has already prepared the changeover for its customers through various measures so that they can benefit from the network modernization early on.

The customers' contracts will be extended in advance for the use of 4G/LTE. In this way, they automatically benefit from the changeover at no additional cost. Regardless of which rate Telekom customers use - LTE is included. Almost all contracts are already activated for the use of 4G/LTE. And by the time 3G is switched off in summer 2021, even the few remaining contracts will have access to the LTE network. When switching to a current tariff, 5G use is even included in many cases in addition to 4G/LTE. With an appropriate device, the full power of the latest technology can then be used. Incidentally, all third-party providers now have access to LTE in the Deutsche Telekom network and can put together corresponding offers for their customers. 

For whom is an LTE-enabled device worthwhile?

For everyone, actually. Surfing via WiFi is of course still possible even after 3G is switched off. However, anyone surfing the Internet on the move or sharing videos and photos with friends is best served by an up-to-date smartphone. The elimination of 3G means that devices that are not LTE-capable can only use the Internet via 2G. This means that simple applications are still possible but may take much longer than before. In this case it is worth switching to a new device. 

Calls still possible with old phones

After 3G is switched off, calls are made either via 2G or in the 4G network via Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). Even customers without modern equipment can still talk to each other over the 2G network. So if you only want to make calls, you don't need a new telephone. The 2G network has a population coverage of more than 99 percent. 

For the best possible voice quality, however, it is recommended that you use a VoLTE-enabled device. Telephoning via 4G/LTE is possible in all Telekom tariffs without additional costs until the time of switch-off. Most customers will be able to make calls via LTE with their tariffs in high voice quality in 2020.

Does my phone already support LTE?

In most cases, a glance at the display will tell you whether your own device is ready for fast data transmission. If the terms "4G" or "LTE" appear at the top of the screen during use, customers do not need to worry about anything else. Customers can also find out whether they already have an LTE-capable phone or whether they may need a new device on the help pages on the Internet at www.telekom.de/hilfe/3g-abschaltung (german only). A call to the free service hotlines or a visit to the Telekom shop will also bring clarity.

There are attractive offers for customers whose phones are not yet LTE-compatible. These include smartphones and phones for special customer groups. For example, special phones for senior citizens will also be available in the Telekom stores from fall 2020. This will make it easy to switch to new, more powerful devices. 

*) CHIP, Computer Bild and connect have tested Germany's mobile phone networks. According to CHIP portable radio net test, booklet 01/2020, Computer Bild, expenditure 25/2019 and connect portable radio net test, booklet 01/2020 the net of the German Telekom was distinguished as the best portable radio net.

About Deutsche Telekom: Companyprofile

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