If you use a smartphone, you do so via 4G unless that is not available. Once in a while something goes wrong and you suddenly see 3G. Bales, because slowly. Anyway, there are still smartphones in circulation that do not support 4G, although that number is rapidly taking off. The latest generation of smartphones without 4G are from the time of the iPhone 4, so out of the question 2010/2011.
It is not surprising, then, that the telecom providers at a given moment start reducing the support for something that is not actually used by anyone. Vodafone announced last year that they would have done it in 2020 and this week KPN announced that they are going to stop 3G. They will continue a little longer, namely until 2022. That gives the last five percent of their users who do not have a 4G phone the possibility to upgrade within five years.
Why does 3G not continue?
There would be something to say about keeping the 3G network active for things that do not fall under the term smart phone, but that use mobile data. Outdated game devices, pre-IoT devices that are connected and in factories or other places where the hardware only gets an upgrade if it can not be otherwise, there are still some examples of things that use the network.
The simplest reason is that it is an expensive joke to keep a network in the air, especially if it is not used by anyone. Technique, control, maintenance: must all continue to happen. In addition, the problem of the frequencies also plays a role. Providers such as KPN Vodafone and T-Mobile have only a limited number of frequencies to which they can transfer data and as long as they have to reserve bandwidth for possible 3G use that will not be used for 4G customers. KPN says that they are already using parts of the 3G frequencies for 4G customers and that will not be different for the other providers.
The end of 3G does not mean that you are completely dependent on the 4G network for all your communication. Would that for any reason fall over, there should always be the 2G network that lets you call and SMS, so we also have a backup for our communication after 2022. In addition, we must of course also remember that by 2022 the 5G network already (almost) will be up and running, so it will not be a big loss, that disappearance of 3G.