We are in the midst of a landmark moment in the history of telecommunications. All around the world, countries, and organizations are officially phasing out 3G telecom networks in favor of maintaining 4G and emerging 5G networks, each one exponentially more efficient at transferring data than the last. The United States is slated to make the switch and shut down 3G in the country before the end of the year. But what does this historic technical development mean for everyday people and the way we use our devices?
Most modern phones operate on at least a 4G network, and thus will not be affected by the shutdowns. These include phones as old as the iPhone 5, HTC Evo 4G, and Samsung Galaxy S 4G (including all subsequent models). If you aren’t sure what model of phone you have, an easy rule of thumb is if it was released after 2012, it should be at least 4G compatible with very few exceptions. Any phones which are older than that threshold run the risk of losing networking when the 3G network is shut down.
Besides older phones, e-readers, and smart meters are likely to meet the same fate. Small devices aren’t the only ones affected either; in February BMW, among other auto manufacturers, notified customers who use their ConnectedDrive system to use apps and access the internet that those features were going to be totally gone due to the change.
On the other hand, some industry sectors have been able to adjust more smoothly. Home security company ADT went as far as purchasing a telecom company to upgrade their subscribers’ networks. As a result, there is not expected to be any disruption to home security for their subscribers in the foreseeable future.
Each telecom company has its own self-determined schedule for drawing down its 3G support. This is in order to expand and maintain the much faster 4G/5G networks currently supported by smartphones. Here are a few of the dates for the major industry players:
It’s possible to, if need be, switch carriers to maintain access to 3G for just a few months longer. Bear in mind that whatever you choose, 3G will be gone across all providers by the end of the 2022 calendar year.
5G networks are the “next step” in telecommunications technology (by the way, the “G” stands for “Generation”). First deployed in the United States in 2019 by Verizon, the network has multiple advantages over both 4G and 3G networks. Firstly, 5G supports many more devices on a given network, boosting cellular reception and data in crowded environments like city centers, concerts, or public venues. 5G is also much more power-efficient and can give small devices like the Apple Watch great reception without costing battery life. Finally and most importantly, 5G is 10 times faster than 4G networks, meaning loading pictures, videos and music will be noticeably more seamless and rapid. Despite these strides in capabilities, it’s worth noting that the current 4G network is not slated for decommissioning in the foreseeable future, so you can hang onto your 4G phones!
The only constant in the technology industry is change. Huge events, like the 3G shutdown or the Windows 11 launch, are often underreported and almost never explained to the people who actually use them. Now that you have an overview of the 3G situation, don’t be afraid to dive deeper! Our friendly Technology Trainers can let you know if your device is 5G compatible, whether it’s time to upgrade, and where you can get the best deals. Don’t hesitate and give us a call today at 877-201-3586!