Millions of Phones, Tablets and Other Devices Face Extinction as 3G Networks Soon Go Dark (

A Reminder to Government and Industry that Consumers Still Need Paper Options

Staying connected in the digital world relies more and more on having the latest and greatest devices at your disposal. Consumers who do not, or cannot afford to keep up with the most current technology, are increasingly finding themselves left as roadkill on the digital superhighway.

Phones, tablets, computers and other connected devices have shorter and shorter lifespans, and the factors conspiring to render them obsolete are numerous. The latest killer stalking millions of devices more than a few years old is the termination of 3G cellular networks, which is set to begin in January 2022.

One of the growing pains to get to faster, better 5G networks deployed nationwide involves the major carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – decommissioning their older networks in order to repurpose critical spectrum. The sunsetting of 3G will start happening early in the new year, with each company operating on its own schedules, which will also impact smaller carriers that rely on their networks.

Just how many digital devices will be impacted? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which oversees the industry doesn’t collect this data, but advises that consumers with cellular connected technology “a few years old” and older contact their carriers to find out if their personal technology will stop working soon. Industry analysts estimate that upwards of 10 million phones will be fatally compromised, but the number of consumers whose digital communications are disrupted will likely be much higher.

“Other devices, such as certain medical devices, tablets, smart watches, vehicle SOS services, home security systems, and other connected products may be using 3G network services,” the FCC advises. “And don’t forget about devices that use cellular connectivity as a back-up when a wired internet connection goes down.”
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