LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will phase out its 2G and 3G mobile networks by 2033 to free up radio waves for 5G and eventually 6G services that will power technologies such as driverless vehicles, drones and virtual reality, it said on Wednesday.
All four of Britain’s networks – EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three – had agreed to the timetable, the government said.
BT, which owns the EE network, said in July it would phase out 3G by early 2023, followed by 2G, which is more than 25 years old, later in the decade.
Setting a date to end 2G and 3G services will make it easier for new equipment makers to enter the market because they will not have to support legacy technologies, the government said.
It wants to end the reliance on a handful of suppliers after China’s Huawei was banned from new networks last year, and to that end is supporting the development of Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) technology.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries, who is visiting her counterpart in the United Sates, on Wednesday announced 50 million pounds ($66.2 million) of additional funding for Open RAN projects.
($1 = 0.7553 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle. Editing by Jane Merriman)