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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Plan For the End of 3G Service

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

You may not be aware of this, but starting early 2022, 3G service will no longer be available. Cell providers are planning to shut down the old network to make room for 5G service which provides higher speeds and greater reliability. The shutdown affects more than your mobile phone. This will disable systems in older tablets, vehicles, home alarm systems, and medical alert devices. This means you will no longer have access to 911, phone calls, and text messaging as well as the ability to connect to mobile hotspots, unlock your car or have that medical device call for help. Not sure what to do, check out these tips to help you stay connected to the services you need.

When is it happening? AT&T is the first provider shutting down as it will pull the plug on 3G in February. T-Mobile will shut down Sprint 3G networks on March 31. T-Mobile’s own 3G networks will be gone by July 1. Finally, Verizon will end service on December 31, 2022.

You're probably breathing a sigh of relief if you didn't see your carrier listed here, but that doesn't mean you won't be affected. Many small carriers use the 3G networks of the big three cellular networks, so you will need to check with your cell provider to see how you're affected. This also means you need to check with your medical devices, tablets, smartwatches, home security systems, and other products that still depend on the 3G network.

What can I do? Your first step is to check with your cell provider. Depending on who you use, you may have already received a letter letting you know that your devices will be retired. If your device is no longer supported, you will need to upgrade to a newer device to ensure that you can stay connected to the network. You may think that this is the same process as when we switched from analog to digital over the air TV service, but unlike that process where you just need to get a digital antenna, there is no way to upgrade some devices to work on 5G. Some devices only need a software update to enable VoLTE (HD Voice) Call your provider to check whether your device is 4G LTE (with VoLTE or HD Voice). This can be done by checking the phone’s settings or user manual. You can even do a search online to determine whether you need to purchase a new device or install a software update.

What can I do with my older devices? Some devices like e-Readers, smartphones, and tablets may continue to serve you as mini-computers by connecting them to your home or office wifi. They can get a new life if you allow younger members and older members of your family if they want to download and play apps. Other devices will have to be retired permanently by taking them to your favorite recycling company. With the obsolesce of these devices, you couldn't even list them on Facebook or Craigslist as they will be no use to anyone.

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