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Car owners see effects of 3G phaseout in lost navigation and safety features – CBS Boston


GROVELAND (CBS) — About two months ago, Scott Egan of Groveland began noticing that some of the features on his 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee were inconsistent or not working at all. Features ranging from road navigation to the emergency alert system were experiencing issues.

“That bothered me a lot because those are important features,” Egan told WBZ.

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Through research of Jeep owners’ online forums, he realized the problem: the nationwide phase-out or “extinction” of 3G.

Several major wireless companies have announced they will be phasing out 3G service to make room for more advanced 4G and 5G services, but millions of car owners may not realize that this affects much more than their cell phones.

“You might think it was when Betamax turned into VHS, then you had DVDs and laserdiscs and now you have streaming,” explained cybersecurity expert Peter Tran. “Thus, these platforms will eventually be ‘removed’ for more innovative, faster and more efficient networks.”

Tran explained that the phase-out will impact millions of cars from 2015 and before.

Consumers reported that their infotainment systems, auto starters and emergency alert systems were malfunctioning at the start of the 3G shutdown.

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“Automakers are well aware of this problem which will cause millions of cars to go off the strip, meaning they can no longer communicate,” explained Peter Tran.

Manufacturers will have to develop some sort of technology upgrade, he explained, and alert customers in a way similar to a recall notice. “A software upgrade can cost consumers between $300 and $900,” Tran said.

This news does not sit well with customers like Scott Egan. “It’s annoying to have to pay for features that are supposed to already work in the truck because of outdated technology,” he explained.

Egan also says he’s disappointed with Jeep’s lack of communication. WBZ contacted Jeep for comment but did not hear back.

In addition to the convenience issue, Egan worries about safety features no longer working properly. He and his wife make regular trips to northern New Hampshire and rely on the Jeep’s safety features. “So if something were to happen up there, hit a deer or a railing or an oncoming car, that 3G is essential for safety,” he explained.

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In the meantime, while customers wait for a fix, experts say the short-term solution is to get back to basics. “[Like] when you used to roll down the window and you didn’t have a phone,” Tran explained. “The car will still drive. You can always get updates. So sometimes you have to go back to basics until they can actually bridge the gap” between the old technology and the new.


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