The latest nation looking to abandon 3G seems to be Tunisia, with an announcement that the state-owned incumbent Tunisie Telecom wants to get rid of 3G to focus on 4G.
One driver for this is the estimate that some 80% of consumers have terminals compatible with 4G and that there has been a drop in 3G traffic due to the rapid migration of many users from 3G to 4G.
Hence, it seems, the announcement this week from Sihem Tajouri, director of planning and radio engineering at Tunisie Telecom, of the shift away from 3G. By contrast 2G should be safe for now; a large number of terminals still use the technology.
As part of this operation, Tunisie Telecom will begin by restructuring the frequency bands used by 3G for use in 4G. According to Agence Ecofin, the company also has plans to launch VoLTE to transfer voice traffic from 3G to 4G.
This decision may not be too surprising given the country’s Covid-led acceleration in traffic and the demand for broadband connectivity. This also comes about two months after the company completed the national broadband coverage project for so-called white spots (areas that are currently uncovered) which, since 2017, has helped to connect 94 areas spread over 15 governorates.
The decline of 3G is of course likely to become a more general trend in the region, with data traffic expected to continue to increase in the Middle East and North Africa as the transition to 4G networks continues, along with more 4G device availability and more affordable data plans.