Hungary to subsidise 4G/5G device upgrades to facilitate 3G shutdown

Hungary to subsidise 4G/5G device upgrades to facilitate 3G shutdown

Hungary is launching a HUF5 billion (US$16 million) initiative to help consumers switch from 3G devices to 4G/5G smartphones.

According to Budapest Business Journal, around half a million Hungarians are still using devices that cannot access 4G services. Monika Karas, the head of Hungary’s National Media & Infocommunications Authority, has confirmed that from February 2022 a subsidy totalling HUF20,000 will be made available to help users upgrade to newer devices. This sum would fully cover the cost of around 250,000 device upgrades.

CommsUpdate reports that the upgrade initiative will be implemented by the NMHH alongside the Ministry of Innovation & Technology. The move is timely, with both Hungarian market leader Magyar Telekom and rival Telenor Hungary recently indicating that they planned to start winding down their 3G networks from around June 2022. Vodafone Hungary has confirmed plans to shutter its 3G network accounting for “market conditions and subscriber needs”, but has not set a date.

According to TeleGeography, Telenor Hungary’s Tamas Csaba specified that the operator aims to shut down UMTS-900 in 2022 and and UMTS-2100 the following year, adding that currently 3G data traffic accounts for 3% of its total and was “constantly declining.” However, Csaba acknowledged that the device subsidy may not provide enough of an incentive for 3G users to upgrade since most were “pre-paid customers with little data usage.”

Magyar Telekom’s Istvan Taszner said: “The date of [3G] withdrawal is determined by the deadline for the tasks to be solved and thus the achievement of the minimum customer disturbance.”

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