3G Shutdown: 6 Things You Need to Update & How Much It May Cost

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The shutdown of 3G networks won’t just impact your old phone. You may need to replace or update other devices, such as certain medical devices, tablets, smartwatches, vehicle SOS services, home security systems and other connected products that may be using 3G network services, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Mobile carriers are shutting down 3G networks starting this month to focus on more advanced network services, including 5G.  As a result, many older devices will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911 or use data services, the FCC noted. This will also affect 3G mobile phones and some older 4G mobile phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE or HD Voice). AT&T offers guidance for which devices can be updated here.

The exact timing of shutdowns varies by company. Here are some of the shutdown dates that the FCC provided:

  • AT&T will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
  • Verizon will finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31, 2022.
  • T-Mobile will finish shutting down Sprint’s 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022 and Sprint’s 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. T-Mobile will also shut down its 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022.

If you have an older device, you may need to upgrade to a new device, but the FCC said that some carriers may be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers. Other devices may only require a software update to enable VoLTE (HD Voice) or other services.

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Replacing devices or making updates in cars could be costly. For instance, Tesla will charge $200 plus tax for a new modem on any Model S vehicles built before June 2015, The Independent reported. Consumer Reports put together a comprehensive list of cars that could potentially lose automatic crash alerts, which can be found here. They noted that Honda owners only have until Feb. 22, 2022, to get a free software upgrade. In addition, Stellantis car owners, which include brands Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati and Ram, could be forced to pay between $10 and $30 to keep the service by signing up for a wifi program.

The Independent also noted that 1.5 million customers may need to upgrade their burglar alarms, fire alarms and home security systems to ensure that they stay in contact with emergency services or company systems, according to estimations by an alarm industry lobby group.

While it’s not clear exactly how many devices will be affected, The Independent said that estimations are in the millions. If your device is more than 3-or 4-years old, check with your carrier for more information about their 3G shutdown plans and whether your device will be affected. 

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There may still be time to upgrade if the home security industry’s petition to delay is approved by the FCC, says The Los Angeles Times. Because of the pandemic, there has not been enough time to send technicians out to do updates and replace equipment – if there are parts available after supply chain disruptions. You can contact your representative the U.S. House or Senate and ask them to help if you still need an update.

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