3G Networks Are Shutting Down: How This Affects Your Devices (2022)

Two decades ago when most phones just made calls, the first 3G networks ushered in the era of wireless data. They made it possible to use apps on our phones, integrate GPS systems with our cars and do lots of other tasks on the go. But as carriers transitioned to 4G LTE networks and now to 5G, they're shutting down 3G for good this year. As a result, some devices and services will lose service.

Of the three largest carriers, AT&T went first by shutting down its 3G service on Tuesday, Feb. 22. T-Mobile will follow on March 31, and Verizon will wrap it up on Dec. 31. (For the plans of smaller carriers like Cricket and Boost, see below.)

How the shutdowns will affect you depends on a few things. If you have a phone released no earlier than 2015, you should be fine. If you're unsure, each carrier has a full list of devices that will continue to operate on their current network. If you will be affected, your carrier should have told you by now (a process they began years ago) and offered to replace outdated devices with new ones that connect to 4G LTE networks.

Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, said the number of people using 3G-only phones today is small, only in the hundreds of thousands. He expects that many affected people haven't upgraded their 3G phones either because they've forgotten to do it or they've kept an old phone stashed in a glove compartment for emergencies.

If you're in that group, you will need to act. Older devices that won't be migrated to 4G LTE or 5G will become functionally useless when 3G goes away for good: They'll still power on, but won't be able to connect to a network. And it's not just phones that will be affected. The shutdowns also will hit tech like auto navigation systems, alarm systems, early e-readers and other internet of things (IoT) gadgets that have relied on 3G networks for data.

(Video) 3G Network Shutdown Questions? We Have Answers!

What to do if your phone is affected by the 3G shutdown

If you have a 3G-only phone or device that's about to lose connected functionality, the easiest way to avoid the issue is to upgrade to a newer device, as the Federal Communications Commission has advised.

This may mean buying a new phone that connects to 4G LTE and 5G networks. Don't worry, if you've signed up with a major carrier, they likely have incentive programs that cover some or all of the costs to upgrade to a new device. And if you qualify, the FCC's Lifeline program could discount your phone service. You don't need to buy a fancy phone either. Carriers sell a range of devices, including old-school flip phones, that connect to modern networks.

If you don't want to upgrade your device and are signed up for mobile service, make sure to contact your carrier and cancel the line associated with it to avoid paying for a phone line you're not using.

Plenty of 3G-only non-phone devices, from alarm systems to solar panels to auto navigation systems, may also lose service. If you're unsure about your device, keep reading and contact the manufacturer.

What if I have a 3G device other than a phone?

There are several types of older devices that rely on 3G networks to download data, like first-generation Amazon Kindles with cellular connectivity, home alarm systems, IoT devices and others.

(Video) AT&T shuts down 3G networks. Here’s how it affects you.

In 2019, there were as many as 80 million 3G devices in use in North America, according to RCR Wireless. Companies have worked to replace their IoT systems and upgrade them to 4G, shrinking the total to under 5 million today, according to Entner.

You may not realize that you own and rely on a 3G-only device, like an alarm system, but there are easy ways to upgrade. ADT Security, for instance, has its own page dedicated to helping customers update from 3G to 4G, while third-party security system providers in your area may also offer upgrade services, like this page from the Southern California-based Bay Alarm.

If you have one of those devices, try contacting the manufacturer to see if you can upgrade to 4G connectivity or swap it for a comparable product that connects to 4G LTE or 5G. That's if the company is willing to support its customer base, but you may have to upgrade at your own expense.

These devices should still work over Wi-Fi if they were built with such connectivity, but given that many relied on 3G to deliver service, it's likely that they'll lose functionality when they lose access to mobile networks.

When is the AT&T 3G shutdown?

AT&T shut down its 3G network on Feb. 22. Phones and devices that do not support Voice over LTE (also called VoLTE or HD Voice) and connect to 4G LTE networks won't work with AT&T.

(Video) What You Need to Know About the 3G Shutdown

AT&T has a list of devices that are compatible with its network, with phones newer than and including the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Motorola G6 Play, Google Pixel 2, LG V10, LG G3 Vigor, Nokia G10, OnePlus 6T and Sony Xperia 1. The list also has tablets, newer than and including the iPad 3, Lenovo Moto Tab, Microsoft Surface 3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.

Subscribers can upgrade their phone whether they have a monthly or prepaid contract by transferring their SIM card to a new device and following instructions on AT&T's support page.

If AT&T customers don't migrate to the carrier's 4G network, they'll still be able to connect to data if they agree to roaming charges while using rival T-Mobile's network.

When is the T-Mobile 3G shutdown?

T-Mobile is shutting down its 3G CDMA network that it inherited from its 2020 merger with Sprint on March 31. The carrier had planned to shutter it on Jan. 1 of this year but delayed it for three months. That gave Boost Mobile, a carrier under Dish that uses Sprint's 3G network, more time to transition customers off the antiquated service.

Customers with phones that only work on Sprint's 3G CDMA network may be eligible to upgrade to a new 5G handset at no cost via special offers, which can be checked after logging in.

(Video) The 3G Shutdown will Affect Everyday Devices you Probably Own!

Those using T-Mobile's 3G network, which includes owners of GSM phones and the aforementioned AT&T roamers, will be supported until it is retired on July 1, according to a T-Mobile support page.

T-Mobile is also taking the opportunity to shutter Sprint's 4G LTE networks, which will go offline on June 30. Owners of such phones need only swap their Sprint SIM card for a T-Mobile SIM card and ensure voice over LTE is enabled.

When is the Verizon 3G shutdown?

Verizon plans to shut down its 3G CDMA network on Dec. 31.

The carrier announced its plan to shutter its 3G service in 2016. And after setting and revising end dates several times, the carrier has settled on sunsetting its service at the end of this year. This is later than other carriers because Verizon must support 3G service for OnStar auto navigation through 2022, Recon's Entner said.

Verizon has alist of devices that won't work on its 4G LTE and 5G networks, like 3G basic phones and smartphones as well as 4G phones that don't support HD Voice (VoLTE). The devices that are compatible with its network include the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple iPad 3. Customers with 3G-only phones and devices can log in to their Verizon account to view their upgrade eligibility and deals on new phones.

(Video) 3G Networks Will Shutdown in 2022

When are shutdowns for Cricket, Boost and other smaller carriers?

As these carriers run on bigger provider networks, the smaller carriers rely on the bigger carrier timelines for ending 3G service.

For instance, Cricket Wireless operates on AT&T's network, so its 3G service ended on Feb. 22. Cricket customers will need a 4G LTE phone that is compatible with HD Voice and can check its in-depth support page for more info.

Others are a bit more complicated. T-Mobile sold off its subsidiary, Boost Mobile, to Dish Wireless but still provides it with the 3G service that's shutting down.

FAQs

What will be affected when 3G shuts down? ›

With the institution of faster and more reliable 5G, roadside assistance and emergency crash alerts are among the many network-based features that will be affected by the shutting down of 3G. Many cars also have an emergency SOS button that, when pressed, dials to first responders via 3G.

What iphones are affected by 3G shutdown? ›

All major US cellular networks are shutting down legacy 3G support in 2022.
...
Apple iPhone Network Compatibility in 2022.
2G/3G Only (Won't Work in 2022)Support 4G LTE and/or 5G
iPhone 3GiPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus
8 more rows
24 Mar 2022

How can I tell if my phone is 3G? ›

On Android smartphones, go to settings > Network settings > mobile network. It should give you a dropdown menu of mobile standards such as 2G, 3G or LTE (4G). If you don't see 4G or LTE, then your smartphone doesn't support the standard.

Will my 3G phone still work in 2022? ›

Verizon plans to shut down its old 3G CDMA network by the end of 2022, which means 3G devices won't be able to make or receive calls.

Will my phone work after 3G shutdown? ›

Most new phones will work without 3G just fine, and the majority of our readers should never even notice that something has changed even if they lose access to 3G. But some older hardware can't make the trip.

What devices are affected by 3G? ›

Older phones are not the only potential victims of the 3G shutdown. According to the Federal Communications Commission, shutting off 3G service will also affect burglar alarms, some medical devices (such as medical alert devices), and other connected devices like smartwatches and tablets.

How do I know if I have a 3G iPhone? ›

How do I know if my iPhone is 3G or 4G?
  1. Dial *#06# on your phone to display your IMEI number. ...
  2. If you see a 3G at the top left it means that you are in an area that does not have 4G support. ...
  3. Open the browser of your cell phone and attempt to access a website.
21 Feb 2022

How do I know if my iPhone is 3G or 4G? ›

iPhone. Go to Settings > General > Cellular. Here if you see Enable 4G LTE option, your phone is 4G compatible. You can select this option to enable 4G.

How do I know if my iPhone 6 is 3G or 4G? ›

How to tell if your iPhone 6 is 4G capable and how to enable it
  1. From the home screen, choose Settings.
  2. Tap Mobile or Cellular.
  3. Check Mobile Data is on, or switch it to on (the switch will show green).
  4. Check 4G is on, or switch it to on (the switch will show green).
30 Jun 2022

How can I update my 3G Android to 4G? ›

Convert 3G phone to 4G | NO_ROOT | 2017 - YouTube

Why does my phone say LTE instead of 4G? ›

4G and LTE are just a syntax difference. Some phones show 4G and others show LTE. Some will even show LTE instead of HSPA+. It's a bit weird, but you shouldn't see a practical difference just because the name of your data speeds changed.

What does LTE mean on my phone? ›

A 4G Standard

LTE or Long Term Evolution is a 4G wireless broadband standard used by mobile carriers to offer data and voice services on your phone. It provides faster internet speeds and lower latency than 3G.

Do I need to replace my 3G phone? ›

When is it happening? As early as January 1, 2022, though plans and timing to phase out 3G services will vary by company and may change. Consult your mobile provider's website for the most up-to-date information. AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.

What phones will not work in 2022? ›

Here are the List of Android Devices to Stop Operating in 2022:
  • Archos 53 Platinum.
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite.
  • HTC Desire 500.
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend II.
  • Catepillar Cat B15.
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 mini.
  • Sony Xperia M.
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2.
19 Dec 2021

Can my 3G phone be upgraded to 5G? ›

Although 3G and 5G use different technologies to send and receive data, they operate at some of the same frequencies. But according to AT&T, they can't coexist on those frequencies — the airwaves assigned to 3G customers cannot also be used for 5G customers.

Is AT&T sending free phones? ›

Thankfully, AT&T is offering a free replacement phone (via Android Police) for those who want it. That's an AT&T RADIANT Core, a budget phone from 2019 that was first introduced as a reasonable option for AT&T's prepaid customers.

How do I know if my phone is 3G or 5G? ›

Another easier way to tell if your smartphone supports 5G or not is to check in the phone settings. Assuming it's an Android phone, tap on Settings >> Network & internet >> Mobile Network >> Preferred Network type. You should see all the Mobile Network technologies supported such as 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.

How long will 4G phones work? ›

T-Mobile and Sprint 3G/2G/4G LTE network shutdown dates

These are January 1, 2022 for Sprint's 3G network sunset, and June 30, 2022 for the 4G LTE connections, respectively.

How do I know if my iPad is 3G or 4G? ›

There should be "Cellular" in the box where serial number, part number etc. is. On the back of the iPad there should be a black piece (side where the headphone is). Look on the top right corner of the iPad screen. Does it say LTE or 3G?

Is iPhone 7 3G or 4G? ›

The Apple iPhone 7 has now been configured for use of 4G networks.

Is iPhone 5 3G or 4G? ›

"iPhone 5 supports simultaneous voice and data on GSM-based 3G and LTE networks.

How do I change my phone from 3G to 4G? ›

This guide will show you how to switch between 3G and 4G if you experience problems in the network.
  1. Select Apps.
  2. Scroll to and select Settings.
  3. Select More.
  4. Select Mobile networks.
  5. Select Preferred network mode.
  6. Select WCDMA/GSM (auto) to enable 3G and LTE/WCDMA/GSM (auto) to enable 4G.

What model Iphones are 3G? ›

The iPhone 3G (also known as iPhone 2) is a smartphone designed and marketed by Apple Inc.; it is the second generation of iPhone, successor to the original iPhone, and was introduced on June 9, 2008, at the WWDC 2008 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, United States.

Which iPhone has 4G? ›

That means the iPhone 6 and newer only. Any iPhone since the iPhone 6 will support 4G/LTE (VoLTE). That is, any iPhone made since 2014.

Will my iPhone 6 still work in 2022? ›

The iPhone 6 is reportedly “safe until 2023,” but the iPhone 6 Plus isn't so lucky.

How do I change my iPhone from 3G to 4G? ›

Switch between 3G/4G - Apple iOS
  1. Select Settings.
  2. Select Mobile Data.
  3. Select Mobile Data Options.
  4. Select Voice & Data.
  5. To enable 3G, select 3G.
  6. To enable 4G, select 4G.

Is LTE the same as 4G? ›

So what's the difference between 4G and LTE, and is 4G or LTE better? In short, 4G offers a much faster speed, more stability and access to a larger variety of online activities. LTE is a half-point between 3G and 4G, so its performance suffers compared to the fourth generation.

Are older iphones going to be obsolete? ›

Which Apple iPhone models will become obsolete? Apple has warned iPhone models as late as the iPhone 6 Plus could soon become obsolete. Apple referes to such models as “vintage phones” meaning the models are between 5 and 7 years old and the manufacturer has stopped distributing them for sale.

Is iPhone 6 a 3G device? ›

All iPhone 6 models support all network types from Edge to 4G and LTE, including yes 3G networks.

Is iPhone 8 Too old? ›

Although it's quite old, the iPhone 8 is still receiving updates and will continue to do so until 2022. This applies to the iPhone 8 Plus as well. Apple renders support for devices 5-6 years after they've been released. You can also download the latest iOS 16 on iPhone 8.

Can I upgrade my phone to 4G? ›

You can't. It's not a transformer. Every device has some bandwidths for 2G networks, 3G networks and 4G networks. They are all different from each other and that's you need for getting signals from the network to your device.

Can 4G work on 3G phones? ›

Unfortunately, the ability to access the 4G network depends on your phone's capability. So, if you have a 3G phone, you won't have access to the 4G network. On the CDMA network, a 3G phone can access the 3G network, a 4G phone can access the regular 4G network and an LTE phone can access the 4G LTE network.

How do I upgrade to 4G? ›

4G SIM UPGRADE - YouTube

Should I have my phone on 3G or LTE? ›

LTE is a lot faster, but in high traffic areas can be slower than 3G. The problem is congestion. When it's rush hour in the city, it's sometimes faster to take the back roads than the freeway. While 3G can be faster than LTE in rare circumstances, the norm is that LTE is much faster.

Can I change LTE to 4G? ›

If 4G or LTE is available from your provider, you can switch to a 4G network in your cellular or mobile settings. If you don't see the 4G or LTE option on your Android and are sure your phone is compatible, dial #*#4636#*#* to enable the feature. Some carriers do not allow you to change your network type.

How can I update my Android 4G to 5G? ›

Switch between 2G/3G/4G/5G - Samsung Android
  1. Swipe up.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Connections.
  4. Select Mobile networks.
  5. Select Network mode.
  6. Select your preferred option.

Is LTE the same as 3G? ›

LTE operates on a separate spectrum from 3G networks and requires new hardware. LTE provides fast data download speeds of several 100th megabits per second (Mbps), compared to several 10th Mbps for 3G, meaning that LTE is 5-10 times faster than 3G.

Will my 4G phone work in 2022? ›

4G devices will continue to work. Mobile providers are expected to maintain their 4G networks as they invest in 5G deployment. If your mobile device is more than a few years old, it may be a 3G device. Check with your mobile provider to see if it plans to phase out its 3G services.

Does LTE cost money? ›

Wireless carriers offer LTE services for a monthly fee plus additional data and usage charges. The recurring cost for a data connection can often be as low as $25 per month, and assuming a substation uses less than 10 GB per month, the additional data charge should be minimal.

Why is ATT sending me a new phone? ›

AT&T is sending out replacement phones to people still using 3G-only models. AT&T shut down its 2G network in January 2017 and it is preparing to do the same with its 3G network in February 2022. However, some of its subscribers still have 3G-only phones, so the company is offering free replacements.

What carriers still support 3G? ›

Verizon is the only wireless provider whose service is still up and running. After AT&T and T-Mobile completed shutdowns of their 3G wireless networks in the first six months of this year, Verizon remained as the only provider of the nearly obsolete service. Verizon will discontinue its 3G network at the end of 2022.

What Verizon phones are 3G? ›

There are three phones available: the Orbic Journey V (opens in new tab) (retail value $99.99), the TCL FLIP Pro (opens in new tab) (retail value $79.99), and the Nokia 2720 V Flip (opens in new tab) (retail value $79.99).

Are Android phones going away? ›

While Android, the operating system with a Linux kernel, is dead, Android, the brand, is not going anywhere.

What Samsung phones will be obsolete in 2022? ›

A lot of older cellphones, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4, will become obsolete in 2022 as mobile providers make the switch to 5G networks.

Why is Tracfone telling me I need a new phone? ›

Do I Need to Upgrade my Tracfone Cell Phone? If you received a message from Tracfone that your phone is not compatible, then you will likely need to buy a new phone. In most cases Tracfone should have already sent you a notification about the need to change/upgrade your device.

Do I need to upgrade my phone to get 5G? ›

If your current phone is 5G-compatible, you likely won't have to upgrade anything to get access to the faster service where it's available. If your phone isn't 5G-compatible, you'll have to get a new one. Unfortunately, 5G phones are significantly more expensive on average than other phones.

Do I have to upgrade my phone to 5G? ›

If your current phone receives LTE signals, that means it's 4G-compatible. Unless you upgrade, you won't be part of the 5G revolution, but your service should continue for the immediate future. Most Americans will find their service uninterrupted.

What happens if you don't have a 5G phone? ›

The growth of 5G networks doesn't mean 4G is going away. Mobile carriers will use existing 4G LTE networks to provide their customers' cell service well into the next decade. 5G networks will work with 4G — not outright replace it. The upshot is that 5G-capable cell phones will still use 4G technology.

What phones will not work in 2022? ›

Here are the List of Android Devices to Stop Operating in 2022:
  • Archos 53 Platinum.
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite.
  • HTC Desire 500.
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend II.
  • Catepillar Cat B15.
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 mini.
  • Sony Xperia M.
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2.
19 Dec 2021

How do I know if my iPhone is 3G or 4G? ›

How do I know if my iPhone is 3G or 4G?
  1. Dial *#06# on your phone to display your IMEI number. ...
  2. If you see a 3G at the top left it means that you are in an area that does not have 4G support. ...
  3. Open the browser of your cell phone and attempt to access a website.
21 Feb 2022

What carriers still support 3G? ›

Verizon is the only wireless provider whose service is still up and running. After AT&T and T-Mobile completed shutdowns of their 3G wireless networks in the first six months of this year, Verizon remained as the only provider of the nearly obsolete service. Verizon will discontinue its 3G network at the end of 2022.

How long before 4G phones become obsolete? ›

T-Mobile and Sprint 3G/2G/4G LTE network shutdown dates

These are January 1, 2022 for Sprint's 3G network sunset, and June 30, 2022 for the 4G LTE connections, respectively.

Can 3G phone be upgraded to 4G? ›

Converting a 3G phone to 4G is not long process nor hectic. Instead, it is easy to update the phone within a few minutes. However, it has some requirements like the mobile should have Android 4.4 KitKat version, MediaTek chipset, and an active 4G sim.

Are Android phones going away? ›

While Android, the operating system with a Linux kernel, is dead, Android, the brand, is not going anywhere.

What Samsung phones will be obsolete in 2022? ›

A lot of older cellphones, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4, will become obsolete in 2022 as mobile providers make the switch to 5G networks.

Which iPhone has 4G? ›

That means the iPhone 6 and newer only. Any iPhone since the iPhone 6 will support 4G/LTE (VoLTE). That is, any iPhone made since 2014.

Why does my phone say LTE instead of 4G? ›

4G and LTE are just a syntax difference. Some phones show 4G and others show LTE. Some will even show LTE instead of HSPA+. It's a bit weird, but you shouldn't see a practical difference just because the name of your data speeds changed.

Will my iPhone 6 still work in 2022? ›

The iPhone 6 is reportedly “safe until 2023,” but the iPhone 6 Plus isn't so lucky.

Can I use my 3G phone on 5G network? ›

Although 3G and 5G use different technologies to send and receive data, they operate at some of the same frequencies. But according to AT&T, they can't coexist on those frequencies — the airwaves assigned to 3G customers cannot also be used for 5G customers.

What can you do with an old 3G phone? ›

Fortunately, there's an easy answer to this environmental problem: Clear out your drawers of old phones and recycle them. You can trade in your device for credit towards a new phone with your mobile carrier, sell it online, donate it to a charitable organization or recycle it with your other e-waste.

How many people still use 3G phones? ›

In GSMA Intelligence's 2019 Mobile Economy North America 2019 report, the trade association estimated that 17% of U.S. subscribers, or about 47.3 million, are still using 3G networks.

How can I upgrade my 4G phone to 5G? ›

Swipe up
  1. Swipe up.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Connections.
  4. Select Mobile networks.
  5. Select Network mode.
  6. Select your preferred option.

Is LTE the same as 4G? ›

So what's the difference between 4G and LTE, and is 4G or LTE better? In short, 4G offers a much faster speed, more stability and access to a larger variety of online activities. LTE is a half-point between 3G and 4G, so its performance suffers compared to the fourth generation.

Will my 4G phone still work in 2022? ›

Within the U.S., it's reasonable to assume that by the end of 2022 there will not be a single major carrier supporting 2G. The same fate awaits 3G. 4G LTE operates under a different scenario, and we can confidently say that 4G will be around for at least another decade.

Videos

1. Why the end of the 3G network could affect your car | The Why
(KHOU 11)
2. 3G shutdown to affect alarm systems, vehicles
(NBC2 News)
3. AT&T shutting down its 3G network. How it may affect you
(FOX 2 St. Louis)
4. 3G shutdown will affect your everyday devices including your car GPS
(Ask My ID)
5. UPDATE: 3G Shutdown - Impact on Your Mobile, Medical, and Home Devices
(Your Tech Coach)
6. T-mobile’s 3G and 4G network shutdown on sprints network explained!
(mobilecarriernews)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Tyson Zemlak

Last Updated: 10/26/2022

Views: 6467

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tyson Zemlak

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Apt. 662 96191 Quigley Dam, Kubview, MA 42013

Phone: +441678032891

Job: Community-Services Orchestrator

Hobby: Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Metalworking, Fashion, Vehicle restoration, Shopping, Photography

Introduction: My name is Tyson Zemlak, I am a excited, light, sparkling, super, open, fair, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.