Subsidies offered to customers exchanging 3G phones from Feb-22

13 Oct 2021

Monika Karas, the head of Hungary’s National Media & Infocommunications Authority (Nemzeti Media- es Hirkozlesi Hatosag, NMHH), has announced the launch of a HUF5 billion (USD16 million) programme to assist consumers in exchanging their old 3G mobile phones for 4G/5G compatible handsets, Budapest Business Journal reports. Approximately half a million Hungarians continue to use 3G handsets, and Karas said a subsidy of up to HUF20,000 will be made available for consumers upgrading their device from February 2022 (which would cover 250,000 fully-subsidised upgrades) under the programme to be jointly implemented with the Ministry of Innovation & Technology.

At a recent ‘3G Sunset’ conference in Budapest, mobile market leader Magyar Telekom indicated that it will begin phasing out its 3G network in the second half of 2022, while rival Telenor Hungary similarly set a date of June 2022 for the start of its 3G phase-out. Vodafone Hungary has highlighted that its 3G shutdown timing will take into consideration ‘market conditions and subscriber needs’ without mentioning a specific date. TeleGeography notes that Telenor Hungary’s Tamas Csaba gave a presentation at the conference showing 3G shutdown targets for UMTS-900 (‘2022’) and UMTS-2100 (‘2023’), while he underlined that the proportion of 3G data traffic in the market was already very low at ‘around 3% and constantly declining’, although adding that motivating consumers to switch device could represent a challenge because ‘most 3G phone users are pre-paid customers with little data usage’. Magyar Telekom’s Istvan Taszner stated: ‘The date of [final 3G] withdrawal is determined by the deadline for the tasks to be solved and thus the achievement of the minimum customer disturbance.’ All three operators pointed out that 2G networks would continue operating to support voice services (alongside 4G VoLTE) and M2M devices (alongside LTE, LTE-M, NB-IoT and 5G technologies).