3G networks are shutting down. What does that mean for you?

It’s the end of an era: Over the course of this year, all of the major cellular providers will be shutting down their 3G networks to make room for faster, more reliable 5G networks.

So what does this mean for you? If you have an older phone or an everyday device that relies on a 3G mobile network, you may need to upgrade or replace those devices before they lose their connections.

In this week’s tip, we’ll help you identify whether or not you’re affected and what steps you can take before it’s too late.


What is 3G? 

Launched in the early 2000s and hailed as the “next big thing” in wireless phone technology, 3G was a big upgrade to older 2G wireless technology. It substantially sped up data transfers, allowing phone users to access the internet, browse websites, transfer documents, and even stream video, albeit quite grainy.

When and why is 3G going away?

Today, cellular providers are phasing out 3G networks to make room for substantially faster 5G networks. But this also means that older phones and devices that use 3G will no longer connect to the cellular network or even use emergency services like 911 without upgrades or replacement.

Over the course of 2022, all major cellular providers will begin phasing out 3G connections. The network that CREDO customers utilize will phase out 3G by the end of the year.

How do I know if I have a 3G phone?

According to CTIA, a wireless trade association, fewer than 9 percent of wireless connections in the United States are made on 2G and 3G networks, and most newer phones today do not rely solely on 3G networks. 

Take a look at the top corner of your phone right now. Does it read 4G, 4G LTE, 5G or something similar? You are most likely in the clear and should not need to take action to prevent a loss in service.

However, if you own an iPhone older than iPhone 6, a Samsung Galaxy S4 or older, other smartphones launched prior to 2014, or a feature/flip phone made prior to 2017, you may lose connection to your cellular network. You will no longer be able to make phone calls, send and receive text messages or access your data plans. If enabled, you should still be able to use a WiFi connection from your device.

If you are a current CREDO customer and have a 3G-only device, please give us a call at 866-306-2900 to speak with our customer support team to learn about the options available to you.

What other devices will be affected?

As noted above, many devices continue to connect to 3G networks. These include some home security systems, vehicle SOS technologies, some medical devices, wearables, certain monitoring devices, and other “internet-of-things” devices. 

Some automobile manufacturers and home security companies have been reaching out to customers long before networks begin to be decommissioned this year, but some have not. If you suspect that you have a device that connects to a 3G cellular network, you should reach out to the manufacturer for assistance.