Last year, AT&T announced that it will shut down its 3G cellular network in February 2022, and well, the time is here. AT&T has announced that it will shut down its 3G network on February 22, 2022, i.e., today. But what if you’re an AT&T 3G subscriber? What will happen to the cellular network and the SIM in your phone? Is AT&T offering anything to its subscribers in order to compensate for the shutdown? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why is AT&T shutting down its 3G network?
AT&T explains that the 3G network is being shut down to “make room for an even better one that will improve your experience.” In other words, AT&T is draining money by keeping the 3G network running as most of the smartphones and users have upgraded to either 4G network or 5G network. It no longer makes sense for the company to keep running its 3G services and network equipment. AT&T adds that the shutdown of the 3G network will allow it to “invest in 5G and improve its network.”
What will happen to the smartphones that have a 3G SIM?
When the network shuts down later today, all the 3G AT&T smartphones will no longer receive signals. The phone will start showing “No Service” or something similar to it. You’ll no longer be able to make calls or use mobile data on the 3G device. This will also impact other 3G-capable devices and not just smartphones.
“When we shut down the 3G network, there won’t be data or voice service for devices that don’t have at least have 4G capabilities. This means that while some device features might still work, you won’t be able to access our network unless you upgrade to a newer device.”
AT&T also notes that subscribers who are using a prepaid SIM card will need to upgrade to the new device if their current device does not support Voice Over LTE. We recommend you to check this guide from AT&T that will allow you to find out if your current smartphone will continue to work to not after the 3G shutdown.
What to do if you’re an AT&T 3G subscriber?
If you’re an AT&T 3G subscriber, you’ll need to upgrade to a new smartphone that at least supports the 4G LTE network. If you want to stay on AT&T and use its services, then you can head over to this link and upgrade your phone.
Last year, the company was sending surprise emails to its 3G users saying that it will be upgrading their smartphones to 4G for free. If you’ve not received the email from AT&T, you can still go to att.com/AcceptMyPhone, verify your 3G phone number, and try your luck in getting a free 4G phone replacement. If this doesn’t work out for you, you’ll have to upgrade to a new smartphone.
Impact beyond smartphones
In addition to smartphones, many other products and services will also lose access to AT&T’s 3G network. Amazon has warned some of its Kindle owners that they will no longer be able to use 3G services on their ebook readers. Similarly, Tesla has also notified some car owners that their car will lose access to the cellular network as well as access to capabilities that require 3G, such as infotainment, mobile app capabilities, and roadside assistance.
As 9to5Mac notes, the 3G shutdown will also impact “alarm systems and personal emergency response systems”. A report notes that the Alarm Industry Communications Committee is calling out FCC to delay the 3G shutdown. In a filing, the Committee said that it “would be tragic and illogical for the tens of millions of citizens being protected by 3G alarm radios and other devices to be put at risk of death or serious injury”. AT&T hasn’t responded to these comments and is sticking to shutting down the 3G network this month.