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  • 02/04/2022

3G shutdown: What does it mean for your devices?

Telecom companies are shutting down their old 3G networks beginning next week, and that means some old devices may no longer function properly.

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The FCC advised that AT&T will become the first network to shut down its 3G network on Feb. 22, while Verizon and T-Mobile will follow later this year. The 3G networks rely on older technology and are being shut down to make room for more advanced technology and services, such as 5G.

AT&T has said that all iPhones made prior to the iPhone 6 and some Galaxy models will no longer function after next week, while Verizon has said that the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4 and older models, and Apple’s iPad 2 will not work after the deadline, as we previously reported.

If you have an older phone that is not compatible with 4G or 5G, the device will no longer work for calls or texting once the carrier’s 3G network shuts down. AT&T told The Associated Press that it had reached out to offer impacted customers free replacements for devices via letters, emails and texts, and that fewer than 1% of AT&T’s consumer devices will lose service.

The 3G shutdown will impact more than just phones, however, and businesses are reminding customers that along with phones, cars and home security devices may also lose connectivity.

The home-alarm industry has asked the FCC to delay AT&T’s 3G shutdown until December, citing recent pandemic-related problems with the switch, such as supply chain delays and people hesitant to let technicians into their home, The Associated Press reported.

Many home security companies have been preparing for the last two years, migrating existing customers over to 4G, CNN reported. Some companies, like My Alarm Center, have been messaging customers to alert them to replace their units, and have warnings posted on their website. An alarm-industry lobbying group told The Associated Press that it estimates 1.5 million customers still need to upgrade their fire or burglar alarms.

The 3G shutdown can potentially impact cars released between 2010 and 2021, including the vehicle’s ability to update its location and traffic data while it is driven, CNBC reported.

Acura’s website lists seven models with features that run on 3G, and said drivers need to contact a dealer to update their car’s hardware.

Audi’s website lists 10 models impacted by the 3G shutdown and said drivers should get their hardware deactivated at a dealership.

3G shutdown: What does it mean for your devices?

BMW’s website said any car from 2019 or later should be fine. BMW said it would contact any affected vehicle owners to tell them whether their car was eligible for an upgrade, CNBC reported.

General Motors’ website indicates the 3G shutdown will impact some 2015 and newer cars, and has a searchable database to see whether your car is included.

Honda’s website offers a wireless software update for impacted models.

Lexus announced all its models produced between 2010 and 2017 will be impacted, but neither Lexus nor its parent company Toyota have announced a plan to upgrade software or hardware, CNBC reported.

Nissan previously said it had contacted its vehicle owners who would be impacted by the shutdown, but had not yet announced plans to offer upgrades to hardware or software, CNBC reported.

Porsche lists the vehicles that will lose connectivity on its website, and said some would be eligible for an upgrade to keep the technology working.

Subaru’s website says seven of its models will lose connectivity this month, but said there is a free software update to maintain a connection to Subaru’s STARLINK Safety Plus or Security Plus if you are a subscriber.

Tesla previously announced that sedans made prior to 2015 will lose connectivity unless owners pay a $200 fee at a Tesla dealer to install a new modem, CNBC reported.

Volkswagen’s connected services are subscription-based, and CNBC reported that subscribers should not lose any features.

Volvo’s website says it will offer an upgrade to some owners of impacted vehicles, who should fill out a form for more information.

In addition to phones, security alarms, and cars, a manufacturer of ankle bracelets used for people on parole, probation or pre-trial release said it had not yet been able to update many of its devices, The Associated Press reported.

Zonar, which provides GPS services for buses and trucks, told the AP that tens of thousands of vehicles could be impacted by the shutdown. School districts could potentially lose their ability to track school buses, and truckers may not be able to log their hours as federal rules require, The Associated Press reported.

AT&T has fought against a delay of the 3G shutdown, arguing that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to stop the shutdown, alarm companies have had years of notice to upgrade their systems, and further waiting will degrade customer service and cause dropped calls, The Associated Press reported.

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