SmarTone is the next HK cellco to shut down 2G

smartone 2G
Image by Sorbis | Bigstockphoto

CommsUpdate: Hong Kong operator SmarTone has announced that it will close its 2G GSM network on 14 October 2022, saying the move was “in response to the massive growth of mobile data usage in recent years and the decreasing market demand for 2G services”.

According to the operator, as of April 2022 the number of customers using 2G handsets or devices accounted for less than 0.1% of its total mobile subscriptions. Confirming its plans, meanwhile, the operator noted that the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz spectrum resources currently deployed for its 2G infrastructure will be reallocated for use in its 4G and 5G networks.

SmarTone engages 2G customers

To facilitate a smooth migration from 2G to more advanced mobile networks, SmarTone said it has been working with customers to upgrade 2G handsets or devices to those that support a higher generation mobile network since early 2021.

Further, the operator said it was also working with a few enterprise customers which are using 2G devices to ensure their smooth transition to 4G/5G services.

SmarTone said it would continue to assist affected customers in their upgrade of handsets or devices for enjoying 4G/5G services, and would also endeavour to ‘offer proper arrangements to those who do not intend on upgrading from 2G’.

Regulator urges remaining 2G users to upgrade

SmarTone is the second operator in the city to shut down its 2G network, after Hutchison 3 switched off its 2G network at the end of September 2021. Similar to SmarTone, 3 said that 2G customers accounted for just 0.1% of its user base by mid-2021 and it would reuse its 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum to support more advanced mobile data services. Its remaining 2G customers were offered 4G or 5G tariffs.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Communications Authority (CA) issued a statement advising mobile customers in Hong Kong to upgrade to 4G and 5G service and devices “as early as possible”, as mobile operators look to shut down 2G to free up the bands for 4G and 5G usage.

The CA no longer tallies 2G subscriber numbers in its official statistics, but according to Statista, the figure was 177,000 in 2020.

Related article: SmarTone arrives fashionably late to Hong Kong’s 5G party

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