Dr. Jill M. Bjerke
Silver Spaces, LLC
The dates are now approaching when the faster 5G wireless service will start to be introduced worldwide. The result of this is that the earlier generation of 3G will be winding down and eventually eliminated. This presents serious consequences for certain products that still use the older 3G networks, such as alarm systems and personal emergency response systems (PERS) that many seniors rely on to live independently.
“This so-called 3G sunset will come to pass at different times for different wireless providers. AT&T says it’s shutting down 3G services in February 2022. T-Mobile recently announced it would extend services to March 31 of next year, but not beyond. Verizon plans to pull the plug in December 2022. Carriers are shutting down 3G service to make way for the newer pieces of infrastructure that power the speedier 4G LTE and 5G networks currently expanding across the country.”
What could be affected:
• Home alarm systems
• Wearable medical equipment
• Fire alarms
• Ankle monitors
• Some smartwatches that still operate on 3G networks
• 3G devices that are used in industries from aviation to trucking
• Medical tracking devices
• Older mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) devices
• Sensors and standalone security cameras
• “Cheap” feature phones, with a pay-as-you-go SIM. (Most of these phones are 2G or 3G devices, so pretty much all feature phones will lose network access soon.)
• Dozens of vehicle models released anytime between 2010 and 2021. Some cars will lose the ability to update your location and traffic data while navigating. Others will become unable to connect with your smartphone, voice assistants or emergency call services
• Because 3G towers are being shut down, this means either shutting down these services or switching over cars to run on newer cellular communication standards like 4G. For some cars, this means an over-the-air-update or a hardware swap at a dealership. For others, it’s the end of the road for connected services.
If you have a Kindle eBook reader with cellular access that is not one of the latest models, you’ll lose this access. Only two Kindle models – the current Paperwhite (the fourth generation, released late 2018) and Oasis (third generation, mid-2019) – offer 4G access. You still have a year or two before the 3G shutdown which would affect Kindles.
On the opposite side, according to the MAC Security Blog, as far as iPhones are concerned, you probably won’t have to worry. The iPhone 5, released in 2013, was the first iPhone with 4G LTE, and it’s unlikely that many older iPhones only support 3G, such as the original iPhone 3G. The same is true for the iPad: the iPad 2, released in 2012, was the first cellular iPad with 4G, and older models are unlikely to be used widely
In the UK, British Telecommunications just announced that EE (formerly Everything Everywhere), the mobile phone company they own, will turn off 3G by 2023, and other carriers have made it clear that they’ll be shutting their 3G networks down around the same time.
4G requires larger hardware, and uses more power, making the changeover complicated. And 5G – well we don’t go there – yet.
Bottom line – if you know someone who has a device that will be affected by this changeover, reach out to them. Too many seniors are going to be in danger and be confused by why they need to upgrade or replace their devices. Not enough effort has been expended to emphasize the possible seriousness of this changeover.
Ashworth, Boone. “3G Service Going Away Next Year. Here’s What That Means.” Gear. Wired.com. November 18, 2021. Web.
Bray, Hiawatha. “As 3G Dies, Old Phones Aren’t the Only Victims.” Boston Globe. Msn.com. December, 22, 2021. Web.
Stumpf, Rob. “Which Cars Will Be Left in the Dust by Next Year’s 3G shutdown?” The Drive. Popular Science. December 12, 2021. Web.