5G is coming and at the same time, Europe will be saying goodbye to its 3G wireless networks. In Germany, both Vodafone and T-Mobile will be shutting down their 3G networks as of June 30, 2021 in order to reallocate frequencies and resources to their 4G and next-generation 5G wireless networks.
When 3G is decommissioned, any device that relied on 3G mobile data will no longer have internet connectivity. This may also apply to “international versions” of certain 4G phones which default to 3G when not compatible with European 4G. Internet connectivity over Wi-Fi will still be possible with those devices.
All this means that phone users in the EU may begin to experience compatibility issues with devices that were originally purchased in the USA. Below are some tips and guidelines concerning device compatibility.
If you’ve recently purchased a phone here in Germany, generally speaking it should be fully compatible and ready to go!
Phone compatibility: 2G / 3G / 4G / 5G
End of life for non-supported devices
All 3G phones and some 4G phones from the USA, Asia, or other regions will no longer be supported and will therefore have no internet access when 3G is shutdown. Those devices may be able to access the legacy 2G network which will continue to be available in Germany, but only for telephone calls and SMS text messages.
Wait a minute. Why would a relatively new 4G phone from the U.S. stop working?
It’s all about the radio frequencies used in different parts of the world. Phone manufactures such as Samsung and Apple make different versions of the exact same phone, but with specific channels and reception frequencies that are compatible with their intended market: North America, South America, Europe, etc.
For example, if a 4G device from the USA is not compatible with European 4G networks, it will typically just connect to the “next best” available network. In most locations that would have been a 3G mobile network. However when 3G is gone, that fallback option will no longer be available. On that device, internet along with web-enabled apps and services will be history! Again, phone calls and texting may be avilable and Wi-Fi is still an option for data.
What about 5G phones, are they universally compatible everywhere?
Like the example above, 5G phones are not universally cross-compatible across all regions of the world, and would only be a viable option provided that the device is compatible with European 4G networks.
The compatibility takeaway…
To get the best possible compatibility and performance, try to pair your wireless service with a compatible device that is intended for use in that particular region of the world. For example, a Euro-spec 5G smartphone paired with an easyMobile 5G service plan will provide the best user-experience within Germany and throughout the Europe region.
So if your 5G phone can’t connect to a local 5G network it’s not 5G, it's 4G. And that's OK because 4G will continue to offer data speeds of up to 500 Mbps. But if the device you’re using right now is only compatible with European 3G – it’s time to start looking for something else!
The Frequency Check website is an online tool that can provide information about your device’s network and carrier compatibility. Below is a direct link for easyMobile/Vodafone Germany device support. TKS is not affiliated with the Frequency Check website and is not liable for its content, accuracy, and or usage.