3G Networks to Go Dark, Making Older Devices Defunct

A picture of a pile of various assorted 3G cell phones and other devices

© Peter Dazeley - The Image Bank / Getty Images

Cellular network providers begin to shut down so-called 3G networks this year to make more room for super-fast 5G technology. The once-beloved Blackberry is among the first to go dark in a long list of older devices.

If you’ve been holding on to older devices that use 3G networking, you may soon find they no longer work or may need to see if they can connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Tens of thousands of different Android phones are expected to stop working once 3G technology is shut off, TechTimes.com reports. Also, older tablets, medical alert devices, smart watches, fire alarms, and security systems that use 3G also may be affected.

Older phones that rely on 3G, for example, could lose the ability to text, make phone calls, or connect to the internet.

One device—the classic Blackberry—has already gone dark, as of Jan. 4. Devices running on Blackberry’s operating systems and software “will no longer reliably function,” the company stated in a late December news release. These old devices won’t be able to send a text message or dial 911. (For Blackberry fans who are still holding out hope for a revival to this once popular smartphone with its small keypad, the company OnwardMobility has announced plans to release a 5G version of the Blackberry. But its release date is uncertain.)

BlackBerry devices are only one item on a long list of devices being shuttered with the shutdown of 2G and 3G networks. Wireless carriers say they are dismantling outdated, inefficient infrastructure to increase their capacity for newer networks that are touted as more secure and cost-efficient, and easier to maintain, The Washington Post reports.

AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have announced they’ll be discontinuing 3G services to focus on 4G or LTE and 5G services in 2022. AT&T will be the first to end its 3G service in February. T-Mobile and Sprint are planning to end service between March and July, TechTimes.com reports. Verizon says it will give its 3G customers until the end of next year.

View a list at TechTimes.com of the devices that will stop working.