The end of 3G may affect cell service, security and med alert systems

In 2022, major wireless carriers will shut down their third generation (3G) networks and replace them with faster 5G, making older cell phones and devices, including home security and medical alert systems, useless.

People with devices that rely on 3G will no longer be able to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911, or use data service. The major wireless phone companies will completely shut off their 3G networks on these dates:

–Verizon: Dec. 31, 2022

–AT&T: February 2022

–Sprint 3G: March 31, 2022

–Sprint LTE: June 30, 2022

–T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022

Because discount providers like Boost, Cricket, Straight Talk and others piggyback off the major carriers, users of these services will be impacted too. Some of the cell phones that will stop working include the Apple iPhone 6 or earlier and the Samsung Galaxy S4 or earlier.

But 3G doesn’t just impact phones; it is also used to connect home-based medical devices, tablets, smart watches, vehicle SOS services, home security systems, and other products. Even personal medical alert devices used by seniors when they’ve “fallen and can’t get up”, like life-alert or other personal emergency response systems (PERS), will become inoperable when some carriers shut down their 3G networks at the beginning of next year as planned.

Assume that anything you’ve purchased before 2019 is going to need to be replaced. Not in-home network, but wireless. Alarms may require that you have someone come into your home to replace it. SOS systems may require that you visit a dealership to inquire.

What to do if you’re impacted

Cellphones: Reach out to your carrier if you haven’t already received information. But be prepared to shop for a new phone. Carriers may offer discounts and special promotions on replacement devices, including more modern versions of a flip phone. A trade-in may not be required, and if you decide to bail altogether you may not have to pay any early termination fees. Providers may offer deals to upgrade devices – so be sure to ask. If those aren’t available, see if you qualify for the the FCC Lifeline program which can provide a discount on phone and internet service for qualifying consumers in getting connected to phone and internet services. The program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

You can learn more about the Lifeline Program at https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers

Other devices: Check in with your alarm monitoring company, as well as any other businesses with products that have been reliant on 3G.

The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month towards broadband service for eligible households. Reach out to your provider to see if they offer the service, and then go to fcc.gov/ACP.

Want to learn more? Watch Tom Kamber, executive director of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS)/Senior Planet from AARP lead a discussion about the sunsetting of 3G at https://bit.ly/AARP3Gvid.

About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.


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