3G Switch Off

£G Switch Off


Most survey grade GNSS receivers in the UK are now used in VRS mode which necessitates access to reliable mobile data. Mobile data is also becoming increasingly important for companies using services such as Trimble Connect to pass data to and from the office.

In 2021 an agreement was made between the UK government and the UK’s mobile providers to switch off 3G (and 2G) services and this process has now started and some of these companies have released a schedule for this:

NetworkNetwork also utilised by3G2G
VodafoneLebara, Asda, Talkmobile, Virgin Start its switch off in early 2023By 2033
EECo-op, Utility Warehouse, Plusnet, BTSwitch off in early 2024“later in the decade”
ThreeID, SmartySwitch off by end 2024No 2G Fallback
O2Tesco Giffgaff, Sky Mobile, LycamobileNot released plansNot released plans

As it stands O2 will be the only network running 3G services into 2025.

Therefore systems that  rely on 3G will need to use another service to access data – the two options being drop back to 2G services or start to use 4G and 5G services. Depending on the equipment involved then there are different options available.

Trimble Devices affected

Trimble Controllers

DeviceDowngrade to 2G SupportedUpgrade to 4G or 5G supported?
TSC5NoYes – 4G
TSC7NoYes – 4G
T7NoYes – 4G
T10NoYes – 4G
T10xNo ModemNo Modem
T100NoYes – 4G
TDC600NoYes – 4G

Trimble Receivers

DeviceDowngrade to 2G SupportedUpgrade to 4G or 5G supported?
R780No ModemNo Modem


In Scotland, with the exception of O2 all of the mobile network providers are quoting significantly better 4G network coverage compared to 3G network coverage so the obvious solution for VRS users is to upgrade legacy controllers such as the TSC3 to TSC5 and TSC7 devices and for R-series GNSS receiver users to move their SIM cards across to these new controllers. Overall users can then expect generally an improved service.

Arguably the most important network in Scotland is EE and they are showing better coverage in their 4G network compared to 3G or 2G.

Use 2G?

Vodafone and O2 are still showing better overall coverage in 2G compared to 3G and 4G (Three do not have a 2G network), so another option would seem to be that users could carry on with their legacy equipment but fall back to 2G. This strategy would seem fraught with risk. Firstly 2G simply does not have the bandwidth to support cloud services such as Trimble Connect or allow functionality like remote access. Secondly with every device that does not support 4G being forced to fall back to 2G will there be enough reliable bandwidth available for services such as VRS? Ultimately 2G services are going to switched off in the coming years as well.

Multinetwork SIMs

The SIM cards we supply are all Multinetwork so they offer the best possible coverage across all networks. Users can request smaller SIMs free of charge that fit into the TSC5 , TSC7 and TDC600 controllers.


Users of R10, R12, R12i and R780 receivers can also, free of charge, enable RTX and xFill premium on their units to get a robust back up to VRS – entirely unaffected by mobile network signal.

Finally for any users who want to discuss their options and the pros and cons associated with each choice please feel free to call any of the team.