The 3G Shutdown: Everything You Need To Know

The 3G Shutdown

The 3G Shutdown: Everything You Need To Know

The 3G Shutdown

One of the biggest shakeups the tech world is seeing right now is the transition to 5G mobile networks. After years of 4G LTE being the height of mobile internet connection capabilities, the 2020s have finally begun to phase in the fifth generation of powerful, high-speed internet. 

By gaining access to 5G networks, we are also giving up our access to 3G internet. 3G has been less popular due to most phones integrating 4G over the last decade as their primary method of connecting to a network. 

However, with the arrival of 5G, 3G has become obsolete and will be phased out entirely from major telecommunications networks in 2022. 

3G isn’t something that many people utilize anymore, but that doesn’t mean that this change won’t affect you. Depending on your phone and how you connect to the internet, it is possible that you will have to make some changes once 3G is gone for good. 

Here, Navi tells you everything you need to know about the 3G shutdown.

What Is 3G?

3G is the third generation of mobile network infrastructure. It launched in the early 2000s and was the primary kind of mobile network used in the United States during that decade.

3G came after 1G and 2G, the first and second-generation networks respectively. 1G was an analog mechanism that was difficult to use and not very powerful, but it set the stage for things to come. 2G was digital and allowed for internet connection and higher speeds, innovating on what came before. 

When 3G technology came out, it doubled connection speeds and provided mobile broadband access to smartphones and computers. While only 15% of households were utilizing 3G in 2007, by 2012, it was in use by 80% of the country. 3G became synonymous with the start of the smartphone era, allowing more powerful devices to reach their full potential with fast network access and better internet capabilities than ever. 

Why Is 3G Being Shut Down?

The main reason that 3G is being shut down is that 5G is a very network and hardware-intensive project that all the major carriers are prioritizing right now. 5G has unparalleled speeds, signal strength, and coverage. By getting rid of 3G, these companies free up spectrum space and can allocate more resources to 5G. 

On top of this, 3G has been mostly replaced by 4G over the course of the decade anyway, making it an unnecessary expense to maintain for these companies. In the case of T-Mobile, 4G has expanded to cover 99% of eligible regions in America. This means that 3G wasn’t getting much use from them anymore anyway. This is the case for Verizon and AT&T as well. 

Interestingly, many companies never actually turned off their 2G networks

While a similar transition did occur when some organizations shut down 2G to usher in 4G networks, not all of them did

2G was simply not as resource-intensive, while the removal of 3G will have a much bigger effect on what companies are able to do with their resources. 

When Will the 3G Shutdown Happen?

While you may not have noticed, the 3G shutdown has actually already begun. Depending on your provider you may have already lost access to 3G networks of any kind. 

AT&T was the first to get on board with the 3G shutdown, and it completed that process in February 2022. AT&T is the largest telecommunications company in the world, meaning that a huge chunk of Americans lost access to 3G on their devices earlier this year without much fanfare. 

Verizon and T-Mobile are both waiting until later in the year to shut down their 3G networks. T-Mobile will shut down its 3G UMTS network in July, but it has already begun shutting down the Sprint networks that it acquired. Sprint 3G was shut down on March 31, 2022, while Sprint 4G LTE will be gone in the summer.

Verizon is taking its time. Its 3G networks will be gone in December 2022. They will be the last major cell phone carrier to give up 3G, meaning that by 2023 3G will have been mostly phased out for good. 

How the 3G Shutdown Could Affect You

In general, smartphones that came out after 2014 should not be affected too much by the 3G shutdown. An easy way to check is to disconnect from Wifi and observe what your phone says in the top corner of the screen. It should say either 3G or 4G LTE/5G

If it is the former, you might be in trouble once 3G goes away. However, most modern smartphones use 4G at this point, so the average person will not have issues.

It is important to note that not only phones use these mobile networks. Some Kindles and smartwatches currently utilize 3G and will become WiFi only when that infrastructure is gone. 

Other technologies including alarm systems, medical alert systems, and remote start cars could be affected as well. If you utilize any of these technologies and are worried about the ramifications of the 3G shutdown, call your providers to get an idea of your situation. 

Conclusion

3G has been on the way out for a long time, but that doesn’t mean its removal won’t have ramifications. Many devices will become WiFi only and while most phones won’t take a huge hit, it is a good idea to check in with your providers to make sure you won’t be affected. Most of the infrastructure of 3G was obsolete, and its removal will be a natural evolution of mobile networks.

Instead, 5G will slowly begin to take over from 4G until it is the primary network being used in the country. Overall this will lead to better connection speeds and lower congestion, and the shutdown of 3G will help carriers allocate the necessary resources to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Visit Navi for more information on all mobile networks.

 

Sources:

The History of the 2G, 3G and 4G Technologies | Whatsag

What is 3G? | Lenovo

Plan Ahead for Phase Out of 3G Cellular Networks and Service | Federal Communications Commission

T-Mobile Network Evolution | T-Mobile

Your Phone Is Vulnerable Because of 2G, But it Doesn’t Have to Be | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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