Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has warned nearly 400,000 3G devices are still at risk of not being able to call triple-zero emergency services when Telstra and Optus shut down their 3G networks on September 1.

This masthead first reported concerns that hundreds of thousands of devices Australia-wide will soon be unable to contact triple-zero, given many older smartphones are 4G-enabled but default to the 3G network for triple-zero calls. The 3G networks are being shut down to free up mobile spectrum for 4G and 5G networks.

Rowland told ABC Gippsland on Tuesday that the number of affected devices had come down from 740,000 to 370,000 thanks to efforts from a telco working group.

“We are very concerned about this. When this came to light in March this year, I moved quickly to establish an industry working group so that we could get the message out to people. These are users that predominantly are going to not change over their phone as much as others and probably rely on an existing device,” Rowland said in the radio interview.

“We still need to do more because the Telstra and Optus shutdowns are only months away – from 1 September both Telstra and Optus will be switched over. I’d like to do a public service announcement for your listeners to find out if your device is impacted. If you’re a Telstra or Optus customer, you can just text the numeral ‘3’ to the following number ’3498’ or you can go to the website site which is and check that out as well.”


Shadow minister for communications David Coleman said that the 370,000 figure was a “shocking indictment on this minister.”

“People were warning the minister a year ago that this was going to be a problem with some 4G phones and yet she claims she only found out about the issue in March this year,” he said.

“Senate Estimates heard in recent days that an IT and networking expert had written to the minister about the problem with some 4G phones in June last year, but he was fobbed off to the department.

“Now, with the 3G network clock counting down to zero in the coming months, the minister is desperately trying to play catch up, with hundreds of thousands of devices still at risk. The minister was again today talking about the option of using her powers to delay the switch off. But we wouldn’t be in this situation if the government had actively been dealing with this a year ago when they were warned.”