Telstra to shut down its 2G network by the end of 2016

The end of the 20-year old GSM network

Telstra has announced that it will be closing down its 20-year old 2G Global System for Mobiles (GSM) network by the end of 2016.

The announcement comes just a few days after Telstra announced that it will begin switching on 700MHz spectrum band in parts of Australia, which will allow the telco to begin introducing next-gen 4G tech in the form of LTE-A.

Emerging in the early 1990s in Australia, 2G was the second generation of mobile technology after analog mobile, and according to Telstra Networks Group Managing Director Mike Wright, 2G was "one of the most complete and comprehensive mobile standards the world had ever seen".

GSM saw mobile communication become affordable and available to the everyday user, and as devices became more advanced, 2G began being used for global roaming and SMS messaging - it even introduced mobile internet.

Networks evolve

According to Wright, the decision to shut the network down comes as its 2G network sees traffic from less than 1 per cent of customers, a decline that began with the 2006 introduction of Telstra's NextG network.

Beyond this, the telco has not sold a 2G handset for a number of years now as the focus shifts to 3G and 4G, which provide better coverage, faster speeds and more services, as well as other emerging technologies, such a next-gen 4G in the form of LTE-A, LTE-B and 5G.

Telstra will "shortly" begin contacting customers that still use the 2G network to discuss their options.

"You will know you're on the 2G network if you have a 2G icon in the top right hand corner of your device. You might also see GPRS, E or EDGE written at the top of the screen," Wright said.

Wright said that as it has not sold a 2G device for a while, most customers would likely already have 3G and 4G compatible devices, meaning they will only need a new SIM card.