What does the latest 3G news mean for Telstra shares?

Telstra shares aren't budging from their new 52-week lows this week…

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Ordinary Australians waiting at the bus stop using their phones to trade ASX 200 shares today

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It's been an awful few months for Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) shares. The ASX 200 telco hit a new 52-week low of $3.57 a share last week. That's the lowest Telstra has traded at in almost three years.

Today, Telstra shares are pretty much sitting at that new low. They are currently asking $3.60 each after dipping to $3.58 earlier this morning.

At the current stock price, Telstra is now down a nasty 9.2% over 2024 to date. The telco is also nursing a 16.6% loss over the past 12 months. Check that out for yourself below:

We've looked at Telstra's recent woes quite extensively here at the Fool over the past few months.

It seems that the apathy from ASX investors towards Telstra shares began last year when the company decided against spinning off some of its most valuable telecommunications infrastructure. It has continued ever since.

The recent news regarding Telstra's 3G network seems to have done little to shift the dial.

Telstra, along with other Australian telcos, has been planning to shut off its legacy 3G network for many years now. 3G is a now-antiquated technology that has largely been superseded by the newer and superior (at least in terms of speed) 4G and 5G.

Telstra shares and a 3G delay

4G and 5G networks offer better download speeds and lower latencies than 3G. However, they also require far more infrastructure (towers etc.) to maintain a similar level of coverage.

This has led to 3G remaining relevant across many parts of Australia. Particularly in rural and regional areas that are yet to enjoy a full 4G or 5G rollout.

Like other telcos, Telstra has committed to ending its 3G networks so that the valuable spectrum that this network occupies can be re-utilised for other purposes. However, this plan will only be implemented once the company has ensured that all parts of Telstra's 3G network are covered by at least 4G.

Until this week, the final shutoff date for Telstra's 3G network was set for 30 June. However, the telco has announced this week that this date will be delayed by two months to 31 August.

According to planning to shut off its legacy 3G network from Federal Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, the Government has voiced concerns that some telco customers who still possess older phones may not be able to make emergency 000 calls once the 3G network is switched off.

Given the government has welcomed Telstra's decision to postpone its 3G switch-off, perhaps these concerns are why.

It's unclear if this decision to delay the demise of 3G is feeding into the Telstra share price this week. Saying that, Telstra shares did rise by 0.28% yesterday, and are up another 0.41% today.

No doubt investors will be hoping that the new 52-week low that we've recently seen proves to be a bottom for the ASX 200 telco.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has positions in Telstra Group. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Telstra Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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