Telcos urge 205,000 Aussies to upgrade before 3G shuts

There are 205,000 mobile phones that won't connect to triple-zero after the 3G network closes, as telcos urge customers to check their devices and upgrade.


International students, migrants and regional Australians are being urged to ensure their phones are 4G compatible, as more than 200,000 devices won't be able to make triple-zero calls when the 3G network shuts down. Telstra is due to switch off 3G on August 31, having extended its original June closure deadline, while Optus will shutdown from September. The telcos have long flagged the end of the ageing network, but there are still 205,000 mobile phones that are incompatible with 4G, according to the latest industry-wide figures provided to the government.

These devices - often bought overseas or second-hand - use 4G data for regular calls and texts, but bump triple-zero calls to 3G because they are not enabled with a technology called Voice over LTE. Users may not realise their phone is configured this way by the manufacturer until the 3G network is switched off and they need to call the emergency line. Optus research has identified suburbs and regions with the highest number of incompatible devices, where many residents are native Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Korean speakers.

Some areas may also have large cohorts of international university students. The city suburbs with the highest number of affected devices on the Optus network are Melbourne's CBD and Sydney's Macquarie Park, Marsfield and Millers Point. Top regional areas are Port Hedland, Western Australia, Cairns and Sarina in Queensland and Griffith and Orange in NSW.

Optus has been targeting these a.