At the end of 2025, the 3G network in New Zealand will be shut down (source: We will discuss why this is happening and what it means for New Zealand businesses with IoT deployments and fleet management needs. And most importantly – how to prepare for the change.

Why the 3G Network is being shut down

In short, 3G networks and 4/5G networks are built using completely different equipment and algorithms. The 3G network uses wide band code division multiple access (WCDMA) technology, which uses the entire cellular spectrum for data transmission. In contrast, 4G/LTE and 5G networks use orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) technology, which divides the spectrum into smaller sub-bands or slices for more efficient use.

Because of these fundamental differences in the underlying technology, 3G devices and base stations cannot communicate with 4G/LTE or 5G towers. This means that as New Zealand has transitioned to newer, faster technologies, there are vastly fewer 3G-compatible devices in use, reducing the demand for the 3G network.

As consumer demand depletes, it becomes financially non-viable for network carriers to maintain and support two separate sets of network infrastructure. It also means that all 3G devices become obsolete and enormous amounts of professional hardware will need to be replaced.

For these reasons, the shutdown of the 3G network in New Zealand is now a necessary step. While it may pose some challenges for businesses and consumers – the benefits of faster, more efficient, and cost-effective 4G/LTE and 5G technologies will outweigh the costs of maintaining the outdated network.

So what does this mean for your business

The shutdown is scheduled for the end of 2025, businesses in New Zealand should aim to have their 3G shutdown plans finalised by no later than the end of Q4 2024. Larger companies will need to have already made meaningful progress. Although the demand for 3G has declined past the point of viability for carriers – 3G devices are still everywhere. Throughout our towns and cities, we have 3G devices in signage, smart-meters, weather systems, machinery, transport & logistics, parking stations, and almost anything that might need remote monitoring.

What we have learned from previous 3G network shutdowns around the globe is that project teams have reliably underestimated the scope of the change and underprepared. This has caused operational disruptions spanning several months for the companies involved. As well as temporarily causing supply shortages of suitable networks and telematics devices.

The shutdown of the 3G network has its most significant impact on businesses that rely on the 3G network to operate their IoT deployments, including fleet companies, logistics providers, government contractors, and other businesses that use machine-to-machine (M2M communications). It is crucial for these businesses to understand and properly prepare for the shutdown.

How can your business prepare

  1. Firstly, assess your current device deployments and determine how much of your hardware is 4G compatible – and replace any hardware that is not. 
  2. Secondly, contact your suppliers, initiate software upgrades, budget, and roadmap replacement hardware, and factor in lead times among other considerations. 
  3. Thirdly, test new devices and ensure that they are compatible with existing systems. This may involve reconfiguring or upgrading systems to ensure they are compatible with the new devices.
  4. Finally, communicate the changes to staff and any impacted customers to ensure they are aware of the upcoming changes and how they will be affected. This will help minimise disruption and ensure a smooth transition to the new network.

The shutdown of the 3G network in New Zealand is no doubt an important milestone in the evolution of the country's telecommunications infrastructure. While it may pose challenges for businesses that still rely on the network, careful planning and preparation can help to ensure a smooth transition to newer technologies. By assessing their current devices, testing their systems, and communicating changes to their staff and customers, businesses can prepare for the change and continue to operate effectively into the future.

We encourage New Zealand businesses to leverage our team’s experience and get in touch with us today.

Similar Blog:  3G Network Shutdown - Choosing Your Replacement Hardware