What to Do if You Experience a 3G Shutdown


Beginning in early 2022, networks and service providers finally started phasing out 3G, a technology that has been in place for more than 20 years.

3G was, for many, the first experience of nonstop connectivity in the 21st century, and a sign of things to unfold in 4G/LTE and the more recent 5G iterations.

While most people will not even realize that 3G is on the way out, there are a few situations that will constitute a true shutdown – the immediate discontinuation of service that may cause problems in real time.

Let’s talk about which technologies may be prone to a 3G shutdown in the coming months, and what you can do to stay safe, connected, and secure throughout the process.

At-Risk Technologies and (What to Do)

Preparedness is everything when a change of this magnitude is on the horizon. Even if you think you’ve made the full jump to 4G or 5G across all your devices, there still may be some 3G tech lingering in your lineup.

Start by looking at your vehicle’s SOS system, a feature made standard in many American cars starting back in the mid-2000s. General Motors led the way with its OnStar system, which still operates on 3G networks in many cases.

You can visit your dealership to seek out an upgraded SOS system, or simply outfit a new system yourself. Phones have many of these same features nowadays, so this may not even be necessary.

Many home security systems from the past decade also depend on 3G, arguably more important than a vehicle SOS. This connectivity is to ensure that emergency services are contacted while you can address more urgent needs during a worst-case scenario.

However you handle the situation, don’t delay. These types of systems should be operational at all times, so make this a priority.

Less urgent systems like internet-of-things devices may also be built for 3G, meaning they’ll lose functionality when shutdowns occur. These may be appliances like coffee machines or refrigerators, or older devices that monitor air quality or humidity.

Even if a device isn’t mission critical, it helps to know what to expect as 3G winds down.

Shutdown Concerns – Protecting Yourself

All good things come to an end, and 3G is no exception. But if you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself without service at an inopportune – or even dangerous – time.

With sensitive technologies like medical alert devices and security systems, you may encounter an emergency situation that requires intervention. Do your best to protect yourself through other means and fill in potential gaps with a cell phone or digital services.

Modern smartphones are loaded with features, and security systems are often integrated into these apps. This may also be a good time to overhaul your entire security strategy from the ground up, just to ensure there are no weak points from 3G or other outdated technologies.

It never hurts to run a test trial to see how your systems hold up right now, and whether anything changes as a result of 3G ending.

Connect with your security service company and see if they can test your current ecosystem without alerting them to an actual emergency.

This way, you can see how your systems hold up under pressure, and they’ll know it’s just a drill!

Save (and Swap) Your SIM Card

With regard to your phone, you may find that certain features are eliminated as 3G comes to a close. Non-WiFi connections may lag, or coverage may decline in certain areas. If you have a very old device, that connectivity may cease completely.

There’s nothing to fear if you know how to bring your SIM card into the next generation, which entails a bit of tech know-how.

If you’re making a significant upgrade, you’ll need to perform an over-the-air (OTA) upgrade, involving a new account and a set of steps to save all your data.

The process is quick, and if you need extra help, your trusted service provider can help you navigate the 3G shutdown as well.

This is also a good time to consider cloud storage if you haven’t yet made this leap. Cloud services hold all your most important contact info so that you won’t have to deal with physical upgrades in the event of a network adjustment.

Finally, it may be smart to keep a copy of your SIM card info on a standalone hard drive separate from the cloud, just in case you lose access to the internet altogether.

Put Safety and Security First

We are so focused on the next generation of tech that we sometimes forget how to leave the past behind. 3G served us well, but now it’s time to move on.

Avoid an emergency scenario using these practical tips, and protect yourself across the board with the best practices outlined here.