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Farewell 2G: Telstra says goodbye to its little-used friend

With 2G accounting for less than 1 percent of network traffic, Telstra has announced it will close the GSM network by the end of 2016.

Image by Pug50, CC BY 2.0

Telstra has announced it will switch off its 2G network across Australia by the end of 2016, closing the door on an early era mobile communications in Australia.

The provider has not sold any 2G devices for a number of years, but Australians who still use a device that connects to this GSM network will be required to upgrade to a 3G- or 4G-compatible mobile, or if they have been using a newer device on the old network, they'll need to obtain a new SIM for the device.

The Global System for Mobiles network has been operating in Australia for more than 20 years, and with customer numbers declining since the 2006 launch of Telstra NextG it now accounts for less than 1 percent of Telstra's total network traffic.

In a blog post announcing the news, group managing director of Telstra networks Mike Wright said it was "time to call a sunset for this world-changing network technology".

"Our 2G network has operated for more than 20 years and was once the premium mobile network for Australians," said Wright. "At the time, just making a phone call on the move was a novelty and Australians embraced the mobile phenomenon. But times change.

"As technology evolved and mobile phones have become smarter, customers have naturally moved to our 3G and 4G networks that offer faster speeds and a user experience that we could only have dreamed about 20 years ago."

Telstra will be contacting affected customers to explain the 2G closure and "provide them with their options", with the full transition to be complete within two and a half years.