Cell phone providers to discontinue 3G service soon, Brazos County 9-1-1 discuss potential impacts

Every major mobile carrier plans to shut down its 3G network before the end of the year to expand 5G service.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 6:03 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Some significant changes are in store for those with older technology using 3G cell service. Things like cell phones, navigation systems, alarm systems, and specific at-home medical devices will no longer be operable after the shutdown.

Senior citizens, low-income residents, and in some cases those living and traveling through rural areas where no 4G, LTE, or 5G service is available could experience issues.

Besides sending and receiving calls and texts, many older devices will be unable to place emergency calls to 911.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022. Verizon announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by Dec. 31, 2022. T-Mobile announced that it would finish shutting down Sprint’s 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022, and Sprint’s 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. It also announced it would shut down T-Mobile’s 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022, but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

Patrick Corley, executive director for Brazos County 9-1-1, says even though this change would only impact less than 10% of the population, it’s the most vulnerable population that would be affected.

“All of the carriers at some point in 2022 are supposed to be shutting down their 3g network, and so that’s going to not only affect people’s ability to make phone calls in general, but it’s also obviously going to affect their ability to dial 911,” said Corley.

Corley says the potential impacts go beyond calling 911.

“The other consideration would be 3G signals that are used in automobiles for automatic crash notifications or SOS calls and things like that,” said Corley. “That might be something that people don’t generally think about what type of network their vehicle uses, but that’s also another area that they need to investigate to make sure their automobile is capable of communicating after the 3G network shut down.”

Claudia Masie, director of patient care for Visiting Angels Senior Home Care, is concerned about seniors losing access to medical devices like Life Alert and other fall detection devices.

“I think this is going to be a challenge for our seniors and any adults with disabilities,” said Massie. “These services really help whenever there is a fall in the home and its unprecedented, we’re not prepared for, and most of our seniors are independent, they still live at home, very independently so if there’s a fall there could be a risk of head injury, breaking a bone or other serious injuries.”

Corley says now is the time to see if your services will be impacted.

“The sooner you can get on top of that, figure out if you’re gonna be impacted, that will give you more time to make the necessary changes when it does happen,” said Corley.

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