Why is this happening?
The cellular providers purchase wireless spectrum from the government and their radio transmissions can only operate within certain wireless frequency bands. This ensures that each provider has exclusive rights to use certain wireless frequencies and will not interfere with communications between other devices on other networks. That is how they ensure that your calls are not dropped and you can’t overhear another caller’s communications.
Over the past few years, the FCC has auctioned wireless spectrum for what is referred to as 5G technology. The major cellular carriers have purchased this spectrum and must “reallocate” their older 3G spectrum and towers to support the new 5G technology. The carriers prefer the newer 5G technology because it is more cost effective and can provide more bandwidth for higher data usage applications. This is driven by the public’s use of streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and others. In fact, many people will be able to replace their wired home internet service with 5G service at a comparable cost and performance. Overall, the transition to 5G will ultimately benefit the customer, but unfortunately, the transition will be somewhat painful for many users who will be forced to replace their 3G devices within a short timeframe.
These are some of the technologies that will be negatively impacted by the sunset
Planned Shutdown Dates
As of January 5, 2022, these are the planned shutdown dates by carrier:
Note, that these are the official final shutdown dates. The carriers have been known to shut down various markets prior to the official shutdown date. Also, any local roaming partner that these carriers depend on may shut down their local networks prior to the carrier’s shutdown date. For example, your devices could “officially” operate on Verizon’s 3G network, but when it operates in a certain market, it could be on the local provider’s network instead. If the local provider shuts down their network down prior to December 31, 2022, then the Verizon service won’t work in that market.
How to determine if you are impacted
In most cases, impacted providers are proactive and will reach out to their users to notify them of the issue and offer upgrade options. However, not all providers prioritize this issue equally. If you haven’t been notified, it would be best to reach out to the provider to ask which of your devices will be impacted by the sunset and if they offer any upgrade options.
You can also look at the labels of your device(s) and if they display any of the following acronyms, then you will likely be impacted:
Unfortunately, in most cases, you will have to replace the device that you currently use with one that utilizes more modern technology. For most non-smartphone applications, using 5G devices is cost prohibitive and is overkill. For these types of applications, 4G/LTE technology is the most appropriate and is expected to be supported by the wireless carriers until 2030.
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