AT&T, which owns CNN’s parent company, is shutting its 3G service down on February 22. Millions who depend on a 3G wireless connected device for medical emergencies, fires, burglaries or carbon monoxide detection will find their lives needlessly at risk. These devices will not work. The reason for the shutdown is so that AT&T can focus on supporting their more advanced 5G network phones. The 5G phones will provide faster downloading of information as America needs to remain globally competitive.
A range of products require updates to continue working after the shutdown, including some home alarm systems, medical devices such as fall detectors, and in-car crash notification and roadside assistance systems such as General Motors’ OnStar. Other businesses are urging customers to upgrade or replace some of the everyday products and services in their homes and cars before they drop connectivity. Many home alarm systems still connect via the older 3G network and hence the concern that these systems will be severely impacted.
Additionally, millions of cars, for example, may no longer have the ability to contact first responders after a collision or receive updates such as location or traffic alerts for built-in GPS systems. Some vehicles, including Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac, have software upgrades for drivers to connect their systems to a 4G network, but other models will reportedly lose this feature for good.
To address these concerns, many home security system companies have already begun to convert its 3G signals to 4G in order to automatically connect to AT&T’s system once AT&T shuts down its 3G network. The auto industry is in more of a gray area. In addition to software upgrades, some automakers are offering consumers newer parts to add to existing technologies to get them running on 4G. But some are offering no accommodation at all.
There still is a lot of unknown as to what actually will happen once 3G becomes totally obsolete. For now, the safer bet for cell phone customers is to upgrade their phone devices now to avoid this looming uncertainty.