Sale of 2G-only devices to be halted from Jan 1

2G service to end in April to free up frequencies for faster networks

Retailers and suppliers will not be able to sell 2G-only mobile devices here from Jan 1 next year, as the authorities move towards pulling the plug on the 2G network service next April.

However, the sale of such devices for export or overseas use will still be allowed, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said yesterday. It will retire the old 2G networks to reallocate radio frequencies more efficiently for high-speed mobile data, such as 3G and 4G networks.

The new regulation appears to be catching up with the market, as telcos said they had stopped selling 2G-only devices as early as in 2008 when 3G- and 4G-enabled devices, which are backward-compatible with 2G networks, became available. Mobile retailers contacted by The Straits Times were also no longer selling such devices.

Ms Pauline Then, manager of mobile phone and repair shop Mobile City at Sim Lim Square, said she sold her last 2G-only mobile phone to a local customer six months ago.

"We have totally stopped selling them as there was no point. Customers won't be able to use them after April," she said.

Retailers who continue to sell 2G-only devices after this year could face a fine.

There are currently some 143,000 lines on 2G services, according to the latest statistics from IMDA, making up about 2 per cent of the eight million mobile users here. IMDA said it will continue to work with the three telcos to facilitate the migration of 2G users to 3G or 4G networks.

Customers with 2G cellphones can upgrade their devices while maintaining their current plans and prices at no additional cost, it said.

Retired teacher Paul Shum, 80, said it was a pity he has to change his old Nokia phone of five years as he had become familiar with it.

"I'm now just looking for a new phone that's user-friendly, can serve my basic needs, and is cheap. I don't need something fancy with all the features," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'Sale of 2G-only devices to be halted from Jan 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe