FCC: 3G Cellular Networks & Service To Be Phased Out

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As early as January 1st, mobile carriers plan to shut down their 3G networks in order to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G.

As a result, officials say if your mobile phone is more than a few years old, you may need to upgrade before your mobile provider shuts down its 3G network.

Many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911, or use data services when this change is implemented.

Click here to learn more about other connected devices, such as medical devices and home security systems that may be impacted.

Mobile Providers Shutting Down Their 3G Networks:

  • AT&T will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
  • Verizon will finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31st, 2022.
  • T-Mobile will finish shutting down Sprint’s 3G CDMA network by March 31st, 2022 and Sprint’s 4G LTE network by June 30th, 2022. It will also shut down its’ 3G UMTS network by July 1st, 2022, but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

Officials say if you do not see your mobile carrier listed above, you may still be affected.

Many carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile providers, utilize AT&T’s, Verizon’s, and T-Mobile’s networks.

If your phone is still operating on a 3G network, officials say you should call your mobile provider to ask for more information on their 3G retirement plan.

This way you won’t lose connectivity, including the ability to call 911.

Several mobile carriers say they will be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need to upgrade their phones.

In addition, there will be FCC programs available that may be able to assist eligible consumers with the cost of phone or internet services:

  • The FCC’s Lifeline program may be able to assist eligible consumers in getting connected to phone and internet services. The program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. You can learn more about the Lifeline Program and find out if you may be eligible here.
  • The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a temporary discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, what it covers, and find out if you may be eligible here.