Vodafone set to shut off Irish 3G mobile network by early 2025

Telecoms company will shut off its 3G network in Dublin city in the coming weeks, redirecting capacity to its 4G and 5G networks

Vodafone Ireland chief executive Amanda Nelson said the telecoms company has seen a sharp increase in customer data usage in recent years. Photograph: Alan Betson

Vodafone Ireland expects to complete the shut-off of its 3G network before next spring, its chief executive has said, after closing the network in Limerick city and Cork city in recent weeks.

The telecoms company, which was also recently named Ireland’s best mobile network for the ninth consecutive year by Accenture-owned engineering services company Umlaut, will shut off its 3G network in Dublin city in the coming weeks, redirecting capacity to its 4G and 5G networks.

Vodafone chief executive Amanda Nelson said the closure of 3G in Limerick city boosted the speed and capacity of its other networks by 20 per cent overnight.

The shutting down of the 3G network combined with a €500 million investment over the next five years in its network would improve network quality, she said, and help meet growing consumer demand for data.

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“Where we’re putting our money at the moment partly has to be around capacity,” she said. “We’re seeing a significant uplift every year, a 30 per cent increase on average in data usage by our customers. And we need to support that and the way we’re doing that is through a combination of upgrades to 4G and 5G, which gives both speed but also great capacity improvement, and also through shutting down 3G at the same time.”

She said the number of phone users relying solely on 3G was “sub 2 per cent” currently but that Vodafone continues to monitor those figures, which will determine the pace at which it continues the process. The group expects to complete the shut down “before the end of the year or the spring next year.”

Vodafone Ireland incurred an operating loss of €21.8 million in the 12 months to the end of March 2023, according to its most recent results, compared with a €26.3 million deficit a year earlier.

Inflationary pressures were blamed for the operating loss, with energy costs rising significantly, the company said at the time.

Earlier this year, Vodafone said its Irish business increased service revenue on the back of “a higher average customer base” and annual contractual price increases, which have hit customers with hikes of 3 per cent on top of the consumer price index during the course of their contracted term.

Ms Nelson said that while inflation has fallen in recent months, it was not possible to predict whether further price increases could be coming down the tracks. “I can’t say where inflation is going to go,” she said. “It’s better than it has been. Any price increases that we put through are linked inflation. They’re not arbitrary.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times