Millions of 3G devices will lose service over the next few months. This is due to the FCC’s plan to free up the spectrum for 5G. Cell phone carriers are planning to shut down 3G network service next week and experts are saying it won’t just impact older phones.
AT&T has reported they will begin shutting down its 3G service on Feb. 22., with Verizon and T-Mobile following suit later this year. However, just because you don’t use an old cell phone doesn’t mean you won’t be impacted. A range of products currently will require updates to continue working, including e-readers, certain home alarm systems, medical devices such as fall detectors, and even in-car crash notification and roadside assistance systems such as OnStar.
There is an estimated that 1.5 million families still have 3G home alarms, which will need to be upgraded. Most home security companies have been migrating their subscriber bases from 3G to 4G over the past two years. It is important to check with your provider soon as to not disrupt service to your phones, safety devices, home alarms when 3G is shut off.
In addition, millions of cars may no longer have the ability to contact first responders after a collision or receive updates such as location or traffic alerts for built-in GPS systems. Vehicles such as Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac, have software upgrades for drivers to connect their systems to a 4G network, but other models will lose this feature permanently.
One potential concern that is an unknown is that one major manufacturer of ankle bracelets for those on probation, parole or pre-trial release said it has not been able to update many of their 3G-reliant devices. A service shutdown could potentially allow tens of thousands of offenders such as child abusers, sex offenders and drunk drivers to go unmonitored while they are out of prison.
How Should I Prepare?
- Check your phone to make sure it will still work. AT&T list has provided a list of devices that the carrier says will work normally after Feb. 22.
- Call the companies that service your burglar and fire alarms and also your personal medical alert systems to see if any need an update. Schedule a service immediately or get a new device shipped.