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3G Networks In FL Ending Service By End Of 2022: What It Means

Patch logo Patch 1/4/2022 Deb Belt
According to the FCC’s website, AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint and Verizon will end 3G mobile service in 2022. Older phones would then lose service, including the ability to call 911. © Shutterstock According to the FCC’s website, AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint and Verizon will end 3G mobile service in 2022. Older phones would then lose service, including the ability to call 911.

FLORIDA — Millions of older cell phones and medical devices rely on 3G networks that will go offline in 2022 to make room for the faster 5G network, and that means thousands of Florida wireless customers could soon be without service, warn federal communications officials.

The nation's three major wireless carriers — AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile — have each said they plan to discontinue 3G service in favor of 4G (LTE) and 5G service in 2022.

The Federal Communications Commission recommends customers with phones older than the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S4 contact their carrier to see if they will be affected by the shutdown. Certain 4G mobile phones that don't support Voice over LTE may also be impacted by the shutdown, which is already underway.

Affected devices will also be unable to place emergency 911 calls after the 3G service halts.

Here's the schedule for the shutdown for each of the major wireless carriers:

  • AT&T: By the end of February
  • Sprint: By the end of March
  • T-Mobile: By July 1
  • Verizon: By the end of 2022.

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Sprint is also shutting down its 4G network by the end of June.

The move would impact older cell phones, some medical alert devices, tablets, smart watches and home security systems.

Smaller wireless carriers — like Boost, Cricket, Straight Talk, and Lifeline — use the networks of the bigger carriers. Customers should contact their carriers for specific dates on when the shutdown will take place and whether it will affect their phone.

Users with older phones used for 9-1-1 only purposes may not be notified if they do not have active service with the provider and should be made aware of this change, officials note.

Organizations supporting the homeless and domestic violence shelters have given clients older phones without a service provider, since those phones could still be used to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Low-income people with 9-1-1 only phones that may no longer be supported can apply for service through the federal Lifeline Program at www.lifelinesupport.org.

3G network technology has been around in the United States for two decades. Verizon launched the first 3G network in the nation in 2002, then eight years later 4G was unveiled. In 2019, carriers started rolling out 5G networks and 5G smartphones.

"The reason the carriers would like to get rid of old legacy tech is to free up that wireless spectrum," Ian Fogg, vice president of analysis at mobile analytics firm Opensignal, told The Washington Post. "If you switch off older tech in most markets, most countries, your spectrum license allows you to use that with newer networks like 4G and 5G."

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