3G cellphones and medical devices will soon no longer call 911: MD officials

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MARYLAND – Millions of old cell phones and medical devices that rely on 3G networks may go down in a few months, warns the Maryland 9-1-1 Board. The country’s three major mobile operators – AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile – have each announced that they plan to discontinue 3G service in favor of 4G (LTE) and 5G services in 2022.

According to the FCC website, AT&T will discontinue service in February, T-Mobile / Sprint will discontinue service between March and July, and Verizon will discontinue service at the end of 2022. The move would impact older cellphones, some mobile devices. medical alert, tablets, smart watches and home security systems.

Most of the users of these services will be notified directly by the carriers if this interruption affects them. However, those with older phones used only for 9-1-1 purposes may not be notified if they do not have active service with the provider and should be notified of this change, officials note. Organizations that support homelessness and domestic violence shelters gave clients older phones without a service provider, as these phones could still be used to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Low-income people with 9-1-1-only phones that may no longer be supported can request service through the Federal Lifeline program at www.lifelinesupport.org.

3G network technology has been around in the United States for two decades. Verizon launched the country’s first 3G network in 2002, and then eight years later 4G was unveiled. In 2019, operators started rolling out 5G networks and 5G smartphones.

“The reason operators want to get rid of old, legacy technology is to free up this wireless spectrum,” said Ian Fogg, vice president of analytics at mobile analytics firm Opensignal. The Washington Post. “If you turn off old technology in most markets, most countries, your spectrum license allows you to use it with newer networks like 4G and 5G.”


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