The programme will see 3G coverage gradually phased out and replaced by strengthened 4G and 5G services.
The multinational telecommunications company also said the move was part of plans to help it reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2027, with the more modern 5G network over 10 times as energy efficient as old 3G equipment.
Vodafone will begin a campaign of communication to customers today, and will continue to share information, advice and guidance to customers to ensure they can stay connected during the change next year.
Vodafone CEO Ahmed Essam said: “We’re building the UK’s most reliable mobile network, and focusing on the technologies that best connect our customers and have the least impact on the environment.
“We’re going to be focused on giving customers a faster and more reliable mobile experience – and minimising our impact on the environment by taking away a layer of our network that uses inefficient equipment.
“We start communicating to customers about this today – our goal is for everyone to stay connected, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that’s the case.”
Vodafone’s 3G service was launched 17 years ago, and nearly 500 billion minutes of calls have been made on the wireless technology – the equivalent of 951,293 calendar years.
By 2016, 3G accounted for more than 30 percent of the data shared across the company’s network – but that has now dropped to less than four percent.
Vodafone and the Good Things Foundation, a charity which aims to make technology more accessible, have joined up to ensure vulnerable customers are ready for the switch to 4G and 5G networks by 2023.
Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive at Good Things Foundation said: “With the move away from 3G, people risk being disconnected, locked out and left behind.
“That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with Vodafone to ensure as many people as possible continue to have the essential digital access they need.
“The pandemic demonstrated the importance of technology that keeps people connected. Healthcare, education, and the economy all depend on people across the UK having a reliable data connection.
“This transition to 4G and 5G for every Vodafone customer is a vital part of ensuring everyone has the digital access they need.”
To help ensure a smooth transition to 4G and 5G, Vodafone UK will use the Vodafone Group’s experience in retiring 3G networks, with successful projects already carried out in Germany and Italy.