According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), major cellular providers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile plan to phase out 3G cellular service and devices by the end of 2022.
In an article shared in October 2021, the FCC says as providers phase out 3G devices, anyone using those devices will no longer be able to make or receive calls or texts, including calls to 911.
According to the article, major cellular providers have different completion dates for the 3G phase out, but all are expected to finish by the end of the year.
- AT&T: Planned to complete 3G network shutdown by end of February.
- Verizon: Planned to complete 3G network shutdown by December 31.
- T-Mobile: Planned to complete 3G network shutdown by March 31.
The FCC also states that even if you do not have service with one of these providers, you may still be affected. Many smaller cellular providers such as Cricket, Boost, and others often utilize larger networks, so customers of those providers may be affected as well.
Keep in mind that the above dates are the estimated completion dates as well, so 3G services may be phased out earlier than those dates.
Anyone concerned their device(s) may be affected by the phase out should contact their service provider now to have a plan in place — especially if they have no other means to contact emergency services.
Many charitable organizations and homeless shelters give individuals or families out-of-service phones that still can connect to 911, and these organizations should double check to make sure those phones are still active once 3G service is discontinued.
The FCC also has the Lifeline program that gives eligible low-income consumers assistance with purchasing cellular or landline service.
So now is the time to make sure any cell phones or other devices that connect to 911 are updated as soon as possible! Please don’t wait until an emergency happens, contact your phone provider, local charity organization or the FCC to find out if your device is affected and how to upgrade if needed.