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3G network downtime – and why you may need to upgrade soon – NBC Chicago

As the 5G revolution continues to accelerate in the United States, 3G is being phased out.

The “third generation” telecommunications network, which was launched almost 20 years ago and represented a huge leap in Internet connectivity speeds for cell phone users, will be retired by the largest mobile operators United States in 2022, i.e. people with 3G and some 4G devices, i.e. those who do not support VoLTE (Voice over LTE) will no longer benefit from the service.

The country’s trio of leading cellular carriers, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, have all announced dates in the coming year to phase out 3G as they shift bandwidth resources to technology expansion Much more advanced 5G. The changes mean affected devices will no longer be able to make or receive phone calls or text messages, including 911, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Data services used to access the internet over 3G won’t work either, but WiFi should still work, the FCC said.

While most users will not be affected – AT&T, for its part, said in a September filing to the FCC that 2.7% of its subscribers still rely on “3G-dependent devices” – operators claim to have informed customers and published information on the phones. will need an upgrade.

This is not the first time that operators have closed large-scale networks. AT&T led the way by phasing out its 2G network in 2017, when it said 99% of its customers were covered by 3G and 4G, and the transition has generally gone smoothly. But as more and more people acquire more and more technologies based on Internet connections, the turnover becomes more and more complicated.

The new iPhone 12 is here and Apple is bragging about being 5G compatible. Business Insider Senior Technical Correspondent Lisa Eadicicco discusses how fifth-generation technology is preparing Apple’s latest iPhone for the future.


AT&T announced the shutdown of its 3G network by February 2022.

T-Mobile will complete the shutdown of Sprint’s 3G network, also known as CDMA, by January 1, 2022, and withdraw Sprint’s LTE network by June 30, 2022. T-Mobile also plans to shut down its 3G networks by July 1, 2022. and will retire its old 2G GSM network, but no date has been set.

Verizon has announced that it will complete decommissioning of its 3G network by December 31, 2022.

The FCC notes that regional operators like Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk and Lifeline mobile service providers use AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks, and will also be impacted by the phase-out.

The dates provided to the FCC are for the end of shutdowns, which means operators may start pulling their networks earlier in some areas.


Apple phones older than iPhone 6 and Samsung phones older than Galaxy S5, for example, are some of the once popular devices that will lose support for cellular service.

The full list of Verizon devices that will no longer work is available here.

AT&T has published a guide for customers to determine which mobile and smart phones will continue to be supported.

T-Mobile said customers concerned about whether they are affected, “rest assured … you will be contacted.”


Cell phones are not the only gadgets that will be affected in the coming year. Other older devices that depend on cellular networks to access the internet, such as medical devices, tablets, smartwatches, car assistance services, and home security systems, can also lose connection.

Devices that use cellular connectivity as a backup when a wired internet connection goes down will also be affected.

The alarm and security industry is concerned about AT&T’s planned demise of its 3G network. The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), and the industry group, said its members have been working to upgrade their hardware since AT&T announced a retirement date in 2019. However, the group says that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed installations; and that the global chip shortage has further hampered systems upgrade efforts. The AICC filed a petition with the FCC in May asking the Commission to delay AT&T’s 3G shutdown until the end of 2022.

AT&T, in its own filing with the FCC, opposed the delay request, citing its three years of sufficient notice for alarm companies to make necessary upgrades.

“After dragging their heels for years, they are now asking the Commission to delay the 3G sunset long anticipated by AT&T,” AT&T said.

The FCC said it was “thoroughly investigating” the schedule presented by AT&T, according to the New York Times.


Cell phone users may need to upgrade to a newer device for connectivity. Carriers may offer discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need to upgrade their phones.

Some devices may only require a software update to enable VoLTE (HD Voice) or other advanced services. If you purchased your phone independently from a mobile phone provider, you should be able to check if your device is 4G LTE compatible (with VoLTE or HD Voice) by checking the phone settings or user manual, or by searching for the your phone’s model number on the Internet. , to determine whether you need to purchase a new device or install a software update.

For other connected devices, users can either check the device labeling, refer to the product manual, or contact the manufacturer to determine if service can be interrupted.

NBC’s Danielle Abreu contributed to this story.