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3G’s Last Sundown Has Begun

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AT&T’s closure of its 3G community on Feb. 22 was the primary main shutdown of 3G know-how within the U.S. It is just the start of the top for the lengthy–operating mobile know-how in North America.

T–Cell is shutting down Dash’s 2G and 3G CDMA networks on the finish of March. Its 3G GSM–based mostly community will comply with on Jul. 1. Verizon is the final in line, planning to close down its 3G CDMA community on the finish of 2022.

We don’t know precisely what number of units within the U.S. nonetheless run on 3G. In Might 2019, Telit stated that greater than 80 million units nonetheless use 3G networks in North America. Definitely, loads of vehicles, alarms, cell private emergency response system (mPERS) merchandise, and different enterprise and shopper IoT units run on antiquated 3G radio know-how.


Automobiles are one of many costliest objects that folks personal which have been affected by AT&T’s 3G shutdown. Ma Bell’s sundown reportedly blocked connectivity for hundreds of thousands of automobiles.

Notably, many fashions have misplaced the flexibility to routinely join with emergency personnel after an accident. Computerized crash notification, which alerts first responders of a crash and shares the automobile’s location, has continuously used 3G modules to connect with mobile infrastructure.

Shopper Stories says though automakers knew that the mobile know-how was shutting down this 12 months, some producers relied on 3G till as late because the 2021 automobile mannequin. Automobile producers used the most affordable connectivity module accessible, one which carried out 3G fairly than a more recent know-how akin to 4G LTE or 5G. This may hardly be a shock for those who have witnessed how auto makers have handled ongoing chip shortages as a result of pandemic.

Some automobiles would require a software program improve to repair the 3G situation, whereas others will want a pricey {hardware} replace. A number of automobiles will lose their connection to the surface world completely.


The alarm and residential monitoring trade — one of the vocal complainants about AT&T’s 3G sundown — gained some restricted and non permanent respite from the Federal Communications Fee (FCC), which can permit suitable AT&T 3G alarm panels to connect with the T–Cell 3G community. It is a very short-term repair as a result of the T–Cell 3G community is because of shut down on Jul. 1, 2022.

The alarm trade has roughly 4 million alarm panels operating on AT&T’s 3G GSM community in U.S. properties. Round 2 million run on Verizon’s 3G CDMA community.

The trade claims that the Covid–19 pandemic in 2020 dramatically slowed its efforts to interchange 3G radios. Any trade that depends on 3G radios, nonetheless, ought to have been forewarned lengthy earlier than a worldwide well being disaster caught it off guard.

Verizon warned in July 2018 that it will shut its 3G community down on the finish of December 2019. The provider has since postponed that occasion a few occasions, however Verizon will now sundown its 3G community on Dec. 31, 2022, after AT&T and T–Cell have finished the identical.

The makeshift 3G repair is simply doable as a result of AT&T and T–Cell each have GSM–based mostly networks for 3G. “This isn’t a worldwide answer, however will hopefully apply to about 25 p.c of current 3G alarm radios, together with sure PERS items in addition to fireplace/burglar/CO radios,” stated Lou Fiore, chairman of The Monitoring Affiliation’s Alarm Trade Communications Committee in an e-mail despatched to members.

Earlier than the T–Cell 3G sundown comes on in July, the alarm trade might be scrambling to interchange the out of date AT&T dwelling alarm panels with 3G radios that also work. You most likely shouldn’t anticipate all million (or so) AT&T radio panels to get replaced in time, although. Anticipate extra trade complaints when T–Cell shuts down its community.

Medical units

3G mPERS units nonetheless stay a key concern for a lot of within the subject. Medical alert executives instructed CNBC in February that a lot of the trade runs on AT&T, which implies that a big proportion of the units in use can be minimize off on Feb. 22, 2022. Sure private emergency response items have been coated underneath the FCC’s final–minute roaming allow, however it’s not clear what number of.

USA At the moment, in the meantime, says that half 1,000,000 wearable emergency–alert units want alternative, thanks, partly, to produce chain shortages. That’s a severe variety of seniors, coronary heart sufferers, and others affected by important ailments who can’t entry cell units that might enhance their lives, guarantee their security, or support of their restoration.

This piece simply offers a snapshot of the various units which have been minimize off by AT&T’s 3G shutdown. As a significant supplier for every type of 3G units, Ma Bell’s journey into the sundown may be very important. There’ll nonetheless be main shutdowns when Verizon turns off its 3G on the finish of the 12 months.



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