Launched in 1993, Vodafone's 2G GSM network will retire on 30 September 2017.
The 2G network today is carrying less than one per cent of the company's data traffic, and around two per cent of its voice traffic — with 4G now looking after almost 80 per cent of data traffic.
Vodafone's acting Chief Technology Officer Kevin Millroy said the company is starting a 12-month campaign to proactively move remaining customers off its legacy 2G network.
"We want to be totally upfront and transparent with our customers by giving them advance notice of the closure of our 2G network late next year," Mr Millroy said. "We will work closely with our 2G customers to ensure this transition is as simple as possible."
While Vodafone will work with customers who have to upgrade their phones to find a solution, Mr Millroy said a basic new 3G smartphone can cost less than $30.
"Today Vodafone has a wide range of smartphones starting as little as $99 for a 4G smartphone or $29 for a 3G phone. By taking a step up to a new 4G or 3G phone, customers can enjoy better coverage and call quality, and can also take advantage of capabilities such as video calling, mobile email and social media on some devices," Mr Millroy said.
Vodafone confirmed that more than 600,000 customers have already hung up on their 2G devices since January 2013. This has helped clear the way for the company to repurpose some of its 2G spectrum for 4G services.
"There has been a natural drop-off of 2G traffic as 4G smartphones have become more affordable. This has led to many customers upgrading their phones of their own accord," Mr Millroy said.
Available in all major metro locations and regional areas across Australia, Vodafone's 4G network now covers more than 22 million Australians and every month carries around 14000 terabytes of data, equivalent to watching 14 million hours of streaming video.
"We've invested billions of dollars in our network over recent years, and with our 4G network now reaching most Australians, more customers are taking advantage of the faster speeds on offer with 4G compatible devices," said Mr Millroy.
Mr Millroy said Vodafonbe is continuing to enhance the network with features — including Voice over 4G which provides clearer voice calls, shorter call connection times and the ability to use 4G data while making or receiving a call.
"With the Internet of Things (IoT) on our doorstep, it is paramount we manage spectrum efficiently and reallocate capacity to our more advanced networks to help more of our customers have a better experience," he said.