The USA is phasing out its 3G network but not without its possible side effects. The 4G coverage has reached nearly the whole state, but the legacy network still holds the key to communications in many parts of the country. Shutting down the network could put many citizens out of telecommunications and emergency services.
Major US carrier networks have laid their plans to end the legacy networks. AT & T wants to discontinue their third-generation network in February. T-Mobile plans to shut down theirs in March and Verizon, another major telco of the country wants to terminate its 3G at the end of December 2022.
Consequences of 3G Shutdown
With major US telcos planning to phase out their 3G network, advocates are arguing that there will be consequences of the 3G shutdown.
Life-alert systems, home security systems, and older cellphones that only operate on either 2G or 3G. The lack of 3G means the houses with such vital emergency services will be locked out of convenience. Besides, older people will also lose telecom services too. Losing communications and household systems will cause a major inconvenience to thousands of US citizens in the coming months.
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It is plausible that 3G still remains vital to many Americans despite the exponential growth of 4G and 5G. A study from OpenSignal showed that about 20 percent of Americans were still on the 3G network as of 2018. Economically disadvantaged citizens and the older demography use devices that run on legacy networks. Once, the 3G network is switched off, a large number of US citizens will lose access to emergency services.
Millions of System Upgrades Due
AICC says there is still work at large to complete the 3G network that should go down. It says that its member companies have yet to upgrade 4 to 5 million systems. AICC, short for Alarm Industry Communications Committee represents alarm and personal emergency response system.
“3G phones will become unusable. You will not be able to use them on the cellular network anymore. Just like when analog phones were phased out, the 2G phones were phased out a few years ago those became unusable.” Tony Russell-Smith, Technology Director at YES Computers said.
Advocates are calling on Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to be flexible with its 3G shutdown policy. Citing the delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in upgrading systems, they want a situation benefitting all. The global chip shortage has further made it difficult for people to upgrade their 3G phones.
To their own credit, US telecom operators have made attempts to make the transition swift for the people on 3G. For an instant, AT & T has approached its subscribers and offered free upgrades or discounts on their services. Other companies are also taking steps not to compromise their customers to their loyal customers.
Approaching Latest Technology Is A Challenge
The urge to leap forward to the next-gen mobile network has put telcos in a conundrum. While they want to offer their latest and most advanced technology, the overhaul of the legacy networks has been one of their biggest challenges. The long existed ecosystem for the past mobile networks has furthered the conundrum.
As millions of mobile phone users are still on 3G, first upgrading their smartphones and household emergency systems will be a priority. Without ensuring everyone’s access to the offered technology, telcos’ evolution won’t reflect mobile phone users’ satisfaction.
How do you think the world states should embrace technology upgrades? Should they make haste for the leap, or take an evolutionary approach by first replacing the old hardware with the new ones? Do offer your insight into this raging discourse in the comments section below.