Experts Warn Upcoming End Of 3G Will Impact Cell Phones, Vehicle GPS, and Home Security Systems

Experts Warn Upcoming End Of 3G Will Impact Cell Phones, Vehicle GPS, and Home Security Systems

By Terri Jo Neff |

The clock is ticking for the 3 million phones, tablets, and cellular networks in the U.S. which rely on 3G service, and it is expected to lead to safety and security issues starting in February.  

Most service providers initially announced plans in 2019 to decommission their 3G platforms which date back to 1998. The change will allow companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to concentrate on improved 5G service.

The 3G sunset deadline has been kicked down the road several times, but 2022 marks the end of that road, with AT&T being the first planning to sunset its 3G service sometime before Feb. 22. AT&T has been warning customers for months to switch over to a 4G or 5G plan, even going so far as to temporarily disable some customers’ accounts until the customer speaks with a service rep.

When a 3G network goes dark, it means the loss of calling features -including 911 service- from phones that have not updated to 4G or 5G plans before the shutdown. Particularly vulnerable will be children and domestic violence victims who are typically provided older, cheaper cell phones with 911-only capability.

But cell phone and tablet users are not the only ones who will be impacted by the loss of 3G service. Drivers will also be at risk.

Most major automakers have continued to rely on 3G software for GPS systems, emergency-call functions, and phone hookups through recent year models.  Without a software update, or even possibly a hardware update, those functions will not work.

And it is not only manufacturers like General Motors that are scrambling. High-end automakers like Audi, Porsche, and Tesla have confirmed several popular features will be unavailable without 3G.

However, despite the AT&T shutdown set to begin in February, several Honda, Nissan, Porsche, and Volvo owners have not made been able to obtain the necessary update to their vehicles’ AT&T network software. 

The discontinuation of 3G will also impact an estimated 1 million home and business security systems across the country installed since the mid-2010s. But ensuring the system continues to work won’t be as simple as changing a cell phone plan with a provider. 

“The cellular communicator on your security system will need to be replaced to operate on the new networks,” according to Vector Security. “Your home security provider should be willing and able to answer all of your questions about the impact on your system, and should have a plan in place to prevent disruption.”

While AT&T is initiating its 3G sunset in February, T-Mobile won’t be far behind. In March, the company will begin a four-month sunset schedule, starting with a large number of 3G customers from its merger with Sprint. By July all of T-Mobile’s own longtime 3G customers will be shutdown unless switched to new service plans.

Verizon, which is believed to have more than 1 million customers on 3G service, has announced it will extend its shutoff plans until late 2022.

FAA Concerns Stalls 5G Rollout Planned For December

FAA Concerns Stalls 5G Rollout Planned For December

By Terri Jo Neff |

Companies in metropolitan areas which have been awaiting 5G cell service will see a bit of a delay now that AT&T and Verizon have put the introduction of some 5G networks on hold until Jan. 5 due to concerns identified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this month.

5G networks, which have been deployed globally since 2019, have greater bandwidth and higher download speeds than 4G systems, making such networks more desirable for use as internet service providers for desktop and laptop computers. Most of the 5G services in the United States will utilize the C-band range is 3700 to 3980 MHz.

AT&T and Verizon are two of the biggest wireless carriers utilizing C-band frequencies for their 5G offerings, with Verizon expected to have nearly 8,000 C-band sites by the end of this year to support its dozen or so C-band compatible 5G devices. But the companies have elected to put off their planned Dec. 5 launch for one month after the FAA expressed concern last week about interference with airplane safety systems.

The FAA went so far as to issue a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) for aircraft manufacturers, radio altimeter manufacturers, operators, and pilots, noting concerns with the forthcoming deployment of 5G wireless broadband networks in the C-band, as well as suggested actions to mitigate any interference with radio altimeters which mostly operate between 4200 and 4400 MHz.

According to the information bulletin, the aviation community needs to remind passengers that all portable electronic devices in checked baggage (including smartphones and other devices) should be turned off and protected from accidental activation and that all portable electronic devices in the cabin and any carry-ons be set to a non-transmitting mode or turned off.

In the meantime, the FAA continues to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration “to assess the need for mitigation beyond the recommended action in this SAIB,” the agency said.

The FAA’s SAIB also notes that while wireless broadband deployment has been undertaken in many countries from 3300 to 4200 MHz, it has not gone above 3700 MHz in the United States. So far there have been no reported issues with radio altimeters, according to the FAA.

However, 5G will be initially phased in across the United States between 3700 to 3800 MHz in 46 markets. That is why the FAA is currently conducting a risk assessment as to whether further recommended actions are warranted.