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Shut down of 3G networks might affect people using older phones

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Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 21:23:08-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Major mobile carriers will be shutting down their 3G networks this year, which will eventually classify older cell phones as useless.

The retirement of the 3G network is to make room for more advanced networks, such as 5G, which is much faster.

Over the years, we’ve seen 2G, 3G, 4G, and now a 5th generation cell service but with the end of the 3G era many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911.

“The general progress is important as we support the general rollout of 5G capacity for people, but the trends also means that we’re losing the 3G capacity. For some people that are holding those old devices, there’s a problem,” said Tom Kamber.

Companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are some of the leading mobile carriers in Kern County and across in the U.S. However, Tom Kamber, Executive Director of Older Adults Technology Services from AARP, added that there’s a particular group that needs to take action soon.

“Now we’re finding that, disproportionately, the 3G sunset is affecting older people. They’ve got some of those devices that might be ten years old, you’re looking at an old iPhone or an old alarm system in your home. Seniors, in particular, need to look at what they’re using and what’s important in their homes and their emergency response devices and things.”

In a statement, Mike Haberman, Network Vice President of Verizon said in part quote, “As they move closer to the shut-off date customers still accessing the 3G network may experience a degradation or complete loss of service.”

That is why carriers are urging everyone with 3G devices to upgrade ASAP.

The shutdown of the 3rd generation service does not only affect phones.

According to the federal communications commission, other devices, such as certain medical devices, tablets, smartwatches, vehicle SOS services, home security systems, and other connected products may be using 3G network services.

“We need to make sure people are informed. That they do those check-ins with their companies and devices that they’re using to make sure that they’re not going to get a really unpleasant surprise in a moment when they need it the most.”

Those who have older generation devices are encouraged to check the model numbers of their device to make sure it's supported after the 3G network shuts down.

AT&T particularly stated that the start of their 3G shutdown will begin on February 1.