The End of 3G Means the End of Smartphone-Free Living for Many

Older Adult Using Basic Nokia 3G Phone Credit: Azay Photography / Shutterstock
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Debuting in the late 1990s, 3G ushered in a new era of on-the-go internet connectivity. It paved the way for phones like the iPhone and transformed how we use mobile phones. Instead of texting and calling, phones could browse the internet, listen to music and watch videos thanks to the 2Mbps speeds of 3G’s technology.

3G has been replaced by 4G and now 5G, which is slowly being rolled out by major wireless carriers worldwide, and as 5G coverage expands, wireless carriers are phasing out their 3G networks.

All three wireless carriers in the US have announced dates to sunset their 3G network or are actively shutting it down as we speak.

T-Mobile has been the most aggressive in this transition, shutting down service to older phones, some of which still run on 3G.

Verizon and AT&T both have announced the shutdown dates for their 3G networks, giving customers ample time to move into newer 4G or 5G phones.

Several carriers are offering sales and similar incentives to encourage users to purchase a new phone.

“If you have a 3G phone, the day they cut you off, your phone won’t work anymore. It’s going to die in a night,” says Dawson to OneZero. “There’s gonna be people who get stranded because of this.”

Doug Dawson, CCG president

Those who don’t upgrade to a newer phone will have a rude awakening when 3G is finally disabled. In an instant, a customer’s perfectly fine phone will become a paperweight.

It is estimated that nine percent of wireless customers have a phone that uses 3G and may be affected by any of these shutdowns.

Some of those customers live in rural areas, which still only have a 3G wireless connection. Others don’t realize the shutdown is happening because the carrier’s warnings look like spam or marketing emails.

When it does finally happen, the termination of 3G will likely be chaotic with customers scrambling to adopt smartphones and learn how to use these pocket computers. Others may turn to minimalist phones that look vintage but are powered by the latest technology.

Do you use a flip phone or know anyone who does? You may want to spread the word.

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