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Mobile broadband customers will no longer be able to use 2G and 3G platforms by 2020, as 4G and 5G become the industry standard, analysts have predicted.

According to Ovum, major network operators such as O2, EE, Three and Vodafone are likely to divert their attention to current and future technology in a bid to both further technological advancements and also limit costs on running legacy networks.

2G is still commonplace mainly due to the fact that it is relatively low-power and provides solid low frequency coverage in rural areas, and is also an alternative to sometimes unreliable 4G.

3G improved on most of 2G's deficiencies but has now been around for more than a decade and superseded in speed and quality by 4G in most areas.

As such, once 4G is rolled out to 99% of the UK by 2017, Ovum expects operators to begin pulling the plug on legacy services.

Nicole McCormick, Ovum Principal Analyst, believes the majority of operators are not currently in a position to close their legacy networks, and will not be for another two years at least.

However, operators are focusing on how to best manage a transition towards full network closure, "given that M2M, voice, and roaming revenue cannibalisation remains a pertinent issue," she adds.

"Ovum believes that in some markets 3G networks may see closure before 2G ones. 2G is still an important source of revenue. LTE provides a better mobile broadband experience than 3G, and with VoLTE, LTE can handle the voice responsibilities of 3G." As such, Miss McCormick expects that some operators could close their 3G networks before 2G is switched off, prolonging the life of the long-running platform.

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