3G Network Shutdown

What you need to know

Mobile wireless carriers are sunsetting 3G networks in order to be able to use that spectrum for more modern technology that more effectively employs the limited spectrum.  This transition will allow the companies to support more customers and offer higher speeds with the same amount of spectrum. While these improvements are valuable, they come with a price: the transition will also require the use of VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution) technology, a form of voice over IP, also referred to as “HD Voice” by AT&T and Verizon.  Mobile wireless handset devices more than a few years old likely do not support VoLTE and will no longer work when the 3G technology is shut down in 2022.

Other devices in addition to cell phones will be affected The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advises consumers to prepare for the 3G shutdown.

The Alarm Industry Communications Commission (AICC) filed a petition with the FCC to extend the 3G data service termination of AT&T through December 31, 2022, citing the “harmful, even deadly, impact this sunset would have on tens of millions of people in millions of homes, businesses and government installations due to a loss of central station alarm protection service.” Public Knowledge et al have filed comments regarding the petition stating they support the transition but are also in favor of the AICC’s request to move out the time frame, stating that it may not be in the public interest to shut down 3G networks “in light of the ongoing resurgence of COVID-19 and the uncertainty caused by the emergency of the Delta and other variants.”

Additionally, the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) filed a letter with the FCC advising it of the results its member survey concerning the impact of the 3G sunset on rural consumers, “and of the need for the carriers to implement Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) roaming, before the shutdown.

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