AT&T is set to pull its 3G network on Tuesday, and major US carriers are expected to follow suit later this year. This move affects everything fromold phones toHome alarm systems and roadside assistance systems.
To transfer its customers from mobile phones to 4G without interruption of service, AT&T(T)CNN, which owns the parent company of CNN, is providing free replacement phones to many users with a 3G device. It also tries to alert clients to network changes through various methods.
“For nearly two years, we have proactively sent out numerous direct mail, billing, email and text messages to help customers transition to next-generation networks before 3G services expire on February 22,” AT&T told CNN Business in a statement.
AT&T is shutting down 3G networks as part of a larger effort to reuse spectrum for 4G and 5G — newer standards that are more efficient than 3G. T-Mobile(TMUS) You will do the same in the third quarter and Verizon(VZ) I will tooend of the year.
Here’s what you should know about turning off your 3G network.
What products will be affected?
The shutdown will affect people who still use 3G Kindles, 3G flips, iPhone 5 and older models, as well as many Android phones. It will also affect home alarm systems and medical devices such as fall detectors. Some accident notification and roadside assistance systems like OnStar It will also need to be updated or replaced.
If you are not sure what network your phone is on, open Settings, tap Network & Internet, and then select Mobile network on Android devices. On iOS, choose Settings, Cellular, then choose Cellular Data Options. AT&T also has custom web page To determine if your device will be affected by the shutdown.
This can be hard to tell with other everyday products. If you are not sure whether the device is 3G-based, you can contact the manufacturer or car dealer.
For those who do not wantR To get rid of their 3rd generation mobile devicesAnd the There are some solutions. In theory, it would be possible to access a web browser via Wi-Fi or make calls via a wireless network on a 3G phone if the user had an application that enables VoIP, such as Facebook Messenger. Likewise, people who have a 3G e-reader will still be able to download new books to the device via Wi-Fi.
Other 3G products may be more complex. My Alarm Center, a home security systems business, has warned customers that some alarm systems will need to be replaced by a technician to avoid potential disruptions. “Even if the alarm appears to be working, it will no longer call our central service station to let us know the need for emergency services,” the company States on its website.
General motors(GM)Ltd., which owns OnStar, began pushing over-the-air updates in October to cars released since 2015, including models from Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac, that might be affected by the transition. As a rule, most cars manufactured in the past five years with connectivity use 4G modems. If the car runs on 3G, the manufacturer may offer an upgrade program or the wireless carrier can provide an adapter with a modem that can be connected to the car.
Why does this happen?
3G was launched in 2002 and became the driving force behind the early boom of the App Store at the end of that decade. Wireless companies later moved to 4G networks and more recently 5G networks.
Last month, AT&T and Verizon launched C Band 5G networks, an important set of higher radio frequencies that will charge the Internet. The change will allow users, for example, to stream a Netflix movie in 4K or download a movie in seconds. (Verizon said band C speeds reach roughly 1 gigabyte per second, about 10 times the speed of 4G LTE.)
Only a small portion of wireless clients are still using 3G networks. Verizon said in a blog post that 99% of its customers have already upgraded to 4G LTE or 5G, and AT&T said less than 1% of mobile data traffic runs on 3G networks. T-Mobile did not respond to a request for comment on its 3G user base.