3G Sunset Affects More Than Cell Phones

With the upcoming sunset of 3G cellular networks in the United States in 2022 and in Canada by 2025, people using older devices like medical alerts, tablets, cell phones, home security systems, and roadside assistance systems may be affected.  Before the 3G network retires, it’s important to check that the devices individuals rely on will continue to provide service.  

Many carriers are offering discounts on new devices, including phones and tablets, but if an older adult uses a “vintage” cell phone for 911 emergency calls only, they may not have been notified about the transition to 5G.   Because many seniors are resistant to using newer technologies, the shutdown of 3G may have a greater impact on this population. 

Other technologies that rely on the 3G network include connected medical devices such as pacemaker monitors and CPAP machines.  In addition to roadside assistance, vehicles using 3G connectivity for navigation and traffic, crash reporting, service scheduling, weather data, remote lock/unlock and remote engine starting may also be affected.  Some automakers will have systems that can be updated while with others, some of these functions may be lost permanently. 

Certain vehicles, like those made by Stallantis, have developed partnerships with cellular providers to provide upgraded devices that can be plugged into compatible vehicles.  In other cases, a visit to the dealer will be necessary to have updated hardware installed or a software patch applied, according to a recent U.S. News Cars report. 

If you or a family member is using a device from 2012 or earlier, you may be affected by the 3G retirement.  There are programs and budget-friendly devices to help low-income seniors purchase devices, but it’s important to always ask if a new device will work on your network after 3G is phased out.  Learn more by following this link to the Federal Communications Commission. 

Don’t forget that Canadians who travel across the US border will also be affected by the US 3G sunset dates, and any older devices or vehicles using 3G connectivity may not work.