The 3G network shutdown will impact more than just phones

The approaching end of 3G organizations will influence something beyond maturing telephones.

With AT&T’s 3G network shutting down next week and other carriers following suit later this year, a variety of products, 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, will require updates to continue working.

In the same way that many mobile carriers have urged customers to upgrade or replace older 3G iPhones, Android phones, e-readers, and other handheld devices in preparation for the shutdown, other businesses are urging customers to upgrade or replace some of the everyday products and services in their homes and cars before they lose connectivity.

In certain circumstances, the risks might be significant if left neglected. Millions of automobiles, for example, may no longer be able to contact first responders following an accident or get updates such as position or traffic warnings for built-in GPS systems. Some vehicles, notably Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac, have software upgrades that allow drivers to connect their systems to a 4G network, while other models are expected to lose this function permanently.

With the launch of 3G in 2002, certain early automobile entertainment systems and home security services – forerunners in the smart home field – were able to connect to networks. However, cellular providers have progressed to 4G and, more recently, 5G networks.

The primary transporters are presently transitioning away from 3G innovation in the United States and a few different business sectors. CNN’s parent firm, AT&T (T), will close it down on February 22; T-Mobile (TMUS) will do as such in the second from last quarter, and Verizon (VZ) will do as such before the year’s end. As the innovation turns out to be authoritatively obsolete, a rush is in progress to help buyers in staying away from an interruption.

What businesses are doing about it

Some industries are better prepared to deal with change than others. Over the last two years, several home security businesses, for example, have been transitioning their subscriber bases from 3G to 4G. “In light of the latest business talks I’ve occupied with, it looks that most US home security sellers have relocated 100 percent or exceptionally close to 100 percent of their supporters, so it’s presently not on generally suppliers’ plans for the day,” said Jack Narcotta, head industry investigator at Strategy Analytics.

He said that the shift to 4G in the home security market was not unduly hard because it just included having a technician install a newer model box or panel. Some firms, like ADT, have also invested more resources in the changeover. Cellbounce, which develops a gadget that transforms 3G signals to 4G for AT&T’s network, was bought by the home security firm in 2020.

Security companies, such as My Alarm Center, have been upfront with their consumers about the need for replacement equipment in advance of the closure. “Even if your alarm seems to operate, it will no longer connect with our central service station to tell us that emergency services are required,” My Alarm Center’s website explains.

Despite these efforts, certain consumers and systems are going to fall behind – and it is not only home security and auto assistance services.

“A few million linked gadgets in the smart home arena, including my meter for my solar panels, still need to be changed,” said Roger Entner, analyst and creator of Recon Analytics. “Some firms began telling their consumers during the last two years that service would soon be discontinued, but as of six months ago, many goods were yet to be replaced.”

The auto industry is more ambiguous. In addition to software changes, several automakers are giving newer parts to consumers to add to old technology to get them functioning on 4G. Some, on the other hand, provide no lodging at all. This is exacerbated by the fact that consumers are likely to be less aware of which network their automotive systems utilize than which network their phones use.

“A lot of people will be startled,” said Sam Abuelsamid, chief analyst at Guidehouse Insights, a market research organization specializing in new technology. “However, if they are a current paying user to a connection service, they have very probably been contacted at this time.”

What can you do about it?

According to Abuelsamid, most automobiles constructed in the previous five years with connection use 4G modems as a general rule. Anyone unsure whether their car will lose connectivity should contact their local dealer for further information.

If the automobile does utilize 3G, Abuelsamid advised buyers to contact the manufacturer to see if there is an upgrade program, and if not, to contact the carriers, which can supply an adapter with a modem that can be inserted into a vehicle.

If you’re not sure if your home alarm system supports 3G, the security company’s website is likely to provide a FAQ page with a list of impacted model numbers. Customers can also contact the firm directly to inquire about and plan the following steps.

Finally, certain 3G-enabled gadgets are considerably easier to replace than others. “It’s faster to supplant a 3G tablet to protect cell availability than it is to refresh a vehicle framework, so a few purchasers have a costly choice to make to keep their more established vehicles connected with cell,” said Bill Menezes, chief at statistical surveying firm Gartner.

Future upheavals

It isn’t the first time a network has been phased away, and it won’t be the last. The shutdown of 3G is mostly designed to re-use the spectrum for 4G and 5G, which are newer standards, better technology, and more efficient. The same thing happened with 2G, which AT&T and Verizon discontinued before the end of 2017; T-Mobile expects to discontinue its 2G network in December.

AT&T and Verizon activated C-band 5G networks this month, a critical set of higher radio frequencies that will boost the internet. Users will be able to view a Netflix movie in 4K resolution or download a movie in seconds as a result of the upgrade. (Verizon claims that their C-band speeds reach approximately one gigabit per second, which is around ten times faster than 4G LTE.)

In the domain of home security, 5G would enable the streaming of high-definition video or interactive mapping with motion detection, allowing an alarm provider to see where an alarm went off on a 3D map and follow anything moving around the region. Furthermore, 4G offers more complex functions, such as speedier communication with alarm companies and the ability to send photographs and rich movies via the network.

Don’t be concerned about the phasing out of 4G home gadgets. According to Dimitris Mavrakis, senior director at market research firm ABI Research, 4G networks will not be phased out anytime soon, and “previous generations will likely continue in the market for a very long time.” He describes 3G as “somewhere in between” and “not optimal for either voice or mobile broadband” because 2G introduced mobile voice and 4G offered mobile broadband.

“At last, 4G is far better than 3G,” he commented. “This is the explanation it’s being gotten rid of.

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