New Zealand's Spark has confirmed that its 3G switch-off date will take place towards the end of 2025.

The operator also revealed that this spectrum will be used to support its rural 5G rollout.

Feature: What the 2G and 3G shutoff means for 5G

New Zealand rural
– Getty Images

Spark, which first launched its 3G network in 2009, revealed that just four percent of its entire network data traffic runs over 3G, while since 2019 3G voice calls have declined by 70 percent.

The operator also noted that its 4G service currently serves 98 percent of the country's population.

"Our 3G network enabled New Zealanders to use the Internet for the first time on their mobile phones. And while it’s served us very well, 14 years on, newer mobile generations are far better suited to meet today's needs," said Spark chief operating officer, Mark Beder.

“We want to assure customers that we will be enhancing 4G coverage in the few areas where there is currently only 3G available and we’ll continue to invest in both our 4G and 5G networks ahead of the 3G closure."

Earlier this month, Greek operator Nova called time on its legacy 3G network, while several other operators around the world have outlined plans to retire 3G networks recently to enhance 4G and 5G services, including the likes of Orange, Vodafone, Telia, and more.

In the US, Verizon became the last of the big three US carriers to switch off 3G services, when it called time on the technology at the end of 2022.

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