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 3G Retirement - Older Devices No Longer Able to Dial 911

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Public Safety Officials Warn that Older Phones May Cease Operating in 2022 TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN – November 17, 2021

The National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) is issuing a warning to consumers that older phones may cease operating in early 2022 due to the retirement of 3G networks and support for phones using 3G service. This may include other devices that use 3G connectivity, such as some medical alert devices, tablets, smart watches, home security systems, and other devices.

"It is vitally important that the public be aware that national 3G networks will no longer work sometime early next year. These networks support older phones and devices that won’t work after the 3G network goes away” said Harriet Rennie-Brown, Executive Director of NASNA.

The nation’s three major wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) have each announced that they plan on discontinuing 3G service in favor of 4G (LTE) and 5G service next year.

Most users of these services will be notified directly by the carriers if this discontinuation affects them. However, users of older phones used for 9-1-1 only purposes may not be notified if they do not have active service with the provider. It has long been the practice of some organizations for the homeless or domestic violence shelters to provide clients with older phones with noservice, since those phones could still be used to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Users of those older 9-1-1 only phones should be aware that they may not work after 3G service is discontinued.

Low income individuals who are concerned that their 9-1-1 only phones may no longer be supported should consider applying for service through the federal Lifeline Program. Information regarding eligibility and participating providers can be found at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/.

The phones that are 3G compatible WILL NOT be able to connect to 911.  Many shelters give out old phones with no service so those in need that cannot afford to pay for a cell phone can still call 911 for help.  Most of these phones are 3G so they will not be able to call 911 from them once the network is decommissioned.  They will connect to whichever carrier is the closest tower with the strongest signal, so there’s no way to pinpoint when these types of phones will stop reaching 911.

Below are the dates that carriers have targeted to decommission their networks.   Some carriers are offering free replacement phones that will be compatible with the 4G network, they would just need to work with their providers.  

AT&T:

·        Decommissioning its 3G network - February 2022. 

Verizon:

·        Decommissioning its 3G network - December 31, 2022.

T-Mobile/Sprint:

·        Sprint decommissioning its 3G network - January 1, 2022.

·        Sprint decommissioning its LTE network - June 30, 2022.

·        T-Mobile - no date has been set for decommissioning 3G.