Prevent the 3G Shutdown From Threatening Your Safety

The top three cell carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are shutting down 3G service this year. If you have the latest and greatest smartphone this change may not seem like a big deal. There are probably other devices around your home, like your security system, that run on 3G. Without it, your safety may be at risk.


Image: Miguel Á. Padriñán, Pexels


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When is 3G ending?

cell towers lined up against the sky

Image: Troy Squillaci, Pexels

The three carriers aren’t shutting down 3G all at once. AT&T will go first, shutting down its 3G service on February 22, 2022. T-Mobile (which merged with Sprint) is planning to pull the plug in stages, starting with Sprint’s older 3G (CDMA) network on March 31, 2022. Then on June 30, 2022, Sprint’s LTE network will be nixed, and, finally, T-Mobile’s older 3G UMTS network will be shut down as of July 1, 2022. Verizon will make the change by the end of the year.

Why you should care

More than likely, you’ve upgraded your phone in the past few years, so the loss of 3G won’t affect your calls and texts. There are other devices you use that may not have been upgraded and could become nothing more than a paperweight once 3G goes away.

Most importantly, devices that keep you safe may stop working. Some older security systems use 3G. Without it, the system won’t be able to call for help in an emergency if it doesn’t have a landline backup.

There’s more. If you have OnStar or another crash response system, your car’s ability to call for help after an accident could be hampered too. Plus, some medical alert devices may not work either.

What to do to protect yourself

Many companies are coming out with fixes for older devices to prevent them from becoming garbage when 3G disappears. ADT is offering its customers a device called CellBridge that will convert their system from 3G to 4G. Other companies are coming up with software upgrades. 

How do you know if your devices are 3G? First, make a list of all of the older devices in your home that use cell service, and make sure to write down the device’s serial number if you can find it.

Some items to consider include:

  • Your home’s security system
  • Your car’s crash response system (if your car is older than 5 years)
  • Phones 
  • Tablets
  • Fire alarms
  • Medical devices including medical alert necklaces and bracelets

Next, contact the device’s manufacturer or service provider and ask if the 3G shutdown will affect your service. Customer service should be able to provide you with the information you need. 

Some manufacturers and service providers have the information online. These links can get you started:

3G FAQ

3G is the third generation of telecommunication networks that make it possible for cellular devices to connect with online services and to make calls. It first rolled out in 2002.

Getting rid of 3G makes more room for more advanced networks like 5G. The newer networks are faster and more efficient.

4G, 4G LTE, and 5G are the newer generations of telecommunication networks.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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