Major network provider A T&T has announced that they are going to shut down their 3G network next week. Other network providers such as T-Mobile and Verizon are planning on making the switch in the 3rd quarter of the year. This has caused panic around technology providers that haven’t implemented 4G in their products. It is essential that they update their products for customers before they become ineffective.
However, for mobile users, there are some workarounds for people who don’t want to get rid of their 3G devices altogether. It will be possible to access a web browser via Wi-Fi or make calls over wireless on a 3G phone. However, they will need an app enabling voice-over-internet protocol, such as Facebook Messenger. Similarly, people with a 3G e-reader will still be able to download new books on the device via Wi-Fi.
Why is 3G getting shut down?
The introduction of 3G in 2002 allowed some early car infotainment systems and home security services to connect to the networks. Over time, wireless companies moved on to 4G and more recently 5G networks. The 3G Network is being shut down as it is seen as an “in-between network” to 2G and 4G, as said by Dimitris Mavrakis, senior director at ABI Research. The use of 3G is minimal as 2G introduced mobile voice and 4G introduced mobile broadband. 3G is “not ideal for either voice or mobile broadband,” he said.
With the implementation of 5G networks happening in businesses, the use of 3G has become irrelevant. This is the main reason why it will soon be shut down across many platforms. Last month, AT&T and Verizon turned on C-band 5G networks. This will allow users to stream a Netflix movie in 4K resolution or download a movie in seconds.
In the home security world, 5G would give the ability to stream high-definition video or interactive mapping with motion detection. This will enable an alarm company to see where on a 3D map an alarm went off and track anything moving through the area. 4G enables more sophisticated feature. It provides us with the ability to communicate with alarm companies faster and share pictures and videos over the network.
What devices will be affected?
Although many devices will seamlessly be able to transfer their customers from a 3G to a permanent 4G or 5G network, others will struggle to follow suit. As stated by Vox, 3G devices that will be affected include everything from medical and security alarms to some voice assistants, navigation software, and entertainment systems built into cars. Dated Kindles, iPads, phones, and Chromebooks that only connect to 3G networks will be affected, too.
Companies who have been aware of this potential change have prepared for this. Home security companies have been migrating their subscribers from 3G to 4G over the past 2 years. “From the most recent industry discussions I’ve participated in, it appears most US home security dealers have migrated 100% or very close to 100% of their subscribers so it’s not on most providers’ to-do lists any longer,” said Jack Narcotta, principal industry analyst at Strategy Analytics.
Risks of the Shut Down
Some companies are reacting to this change and providing customers which newer versions of their products. In the auto industry, some automakers are offering consumers newer parts to add to existing technologies to get them running on 4G. But some are offering no accommodation at all. Companies need to make sure that their customers are being alerted of this change. Through this, they can alert them to having to change their products to a 4G network. Alternatively, they can offer to change it for them, like in the security alarm industry.
Those affected include hundreds of thousands of people who have personal emergency response systems (PERS). Over 85 percent are seniors who live alone and are 100 percent dependent on these to summon health emergency services. These services are critically important for if they fall. In addition, well over a million burglar and fire alarm systems will fail in the US. This will call for imminent change for residential and commercial consumers. As previously stated, millions of older cars will lose connectivity for collision avoidance. The summoning of 911 and other emergency services and school bus monitoring systems protecting students won’t work either.
What can you do?
If you haven’t already been notified from your providers of this change than it is a good idea to make sure your home appliances are up to date. Its important to be ready to make the change to 4G if currently running off a 3G network. Most companies will either alert you on relevant steps to take in order to switch to 4G network. If not, they will more than likely manually install your appliances themselves.
Although this shift in the tech world has created complications across industries, it demonstrates the speed at which our network providers are improving at and it’s our responsibility to adapt to it.