Cellphone carriers to shut down 3G networks: What you need to know

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

York County residents who are still using older 3G phones should start looking for a replacement.

This year, 3G cellular networks will be phased out, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, as the nation's three largest carriers — AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile — plan to shut down their 3G services as early as February.

All of this is happening in advance of the rollout of faster 5G networks. It means that older phones will lose the ability to call, text or use data services.

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This could also affect other devices that use 3G connectivity, including medical alert devices, tablets, smart watches, home security systems and in-vehicle safety, security and roadside assistance systems.

Most individuals with phone service will be notified directly by their carrier. However, users of older phones that are used only for 911 connectivity may not receive a notification if they do not have active service with a carrier, PEMA said.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, this is the current shutdown timeline for various mobile providers:

  • AT&T – February 2022
  • Verizon – Dec. 31, 2022
  • T-Mobile – Multiple dates
  • Sprint’s 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022
  • Sprint’s 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022
  • T-Mobile 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022

Individuals concerned that 911 phones will no longer be supported can apply for service through the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program at www.lifelinesupport.org/.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.