In a bid to keep up with technological advancements and streamline their services, Singapore’s major telecommunications providers – Singtel, M1, and Starhub – have announced their decision to shut down the 3G network by July 2024. While this move marks a significant step towards the future of communication, it also presents challenges, particularly for some Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) whose VoLTE (Voice over LTE) function is not yet enabled. Additionally, there are concerns about older 4G phones without proper VoLTE support, necessitating innovative solutions to ensure uninterrupted communication for all users.

VoLTE logo on top of smartphone
  1. The 3G Network Shutdown

The impending shutdown of the 3G network is driven by the need to optimize resources and make way for more advanced technologies. With the growing popularity of 4G and the eventual transition to 5G, the 3G network has become obsolete, and its maintenance has become increasingly costly for the telcos. Consequently, Singtel, M1, and Starhub have decided to sunset the 3G network by July 2024.

  1. MVNOs and VoLTE Function

While major telecom operators have been working towards enabling VoLTE on their networks, some MVNOs have faced challenges in implementing this technology to date. VoLTE enables voice calls to be transmitted over the 4G LTE network, providing better call quality and faster call setup times. Without VoLTE, MVNOs are limited to using the traditional 2G and 3G networks for voice calls, which will soon be phased out. As a result, MVNOs need to expedite their efforts to enable VoLTE for their users before the 3G shutdown to ensure uninterrupted voice services.

  1. Issues with Older 4G Phones

The shift to VoLTE poses potential issues for users with older 4G phones that lack proper VoLTE support. Many earlier 4G models were designed primarily for data usage rather than voice calls. Therefore, they might not have the necessary hardware or software capabilities to make voice calls over LTE. This could lead to a situation where users with such devices may find themselves unable to make voice calls once the 3G network is discontinued, as they would not be able to fallback to 2G or 3G for voice services.

  1. Solutions for Older 4G Phones

To address the issue of older 4G phones without VoLTE support, several solutions are being explored. Firstly, users may need to check their device’s compatibility and ensure that VoLTE is supported. In some cases, a simple software update from the manufacturer or the telco might enable VoLTE functionality. However, for devices that lack the necessary hardware capabilities, a software update might not be sufficient.

For these cases, telcos may have to consider implementing softphone solutions. Softphones are software-based applications that allow users to make voice calls over the internet. By leveraging data connectivity, these softphones enable voice calls on devices that do not support VoLTE. Users would need to download and install the softphone application on their devices to utilize this solution. While not as seamless as native VoLTE support, softphones can serve as a temporary workaround for older 4G phones until users upgrade to newer VoLTE-enabled devices.


The upcoming shutdown of the 3G network in Singapore marks a significant milestone in the evolution of telecommunications technology. While the transition to 4G and 5G promises improved communication services, it also presents challenges for MVNOs with disabled VoLTE function and users with older 4G phones without proper VoLTE support. However, with proactive measures from telcos and the adoption of softphone solutions, it is possible to ensure that all users can continue to enjoy uninterrupted voice services during and after the 3G network shutdown. As we approach the July 2024 deadline, it becomes crucial for all stakeholders to collaborate and facilitate a smooth and seamless transition into the next era of mobile communication.

By Harry