The main telecommunications operators in the United States plan to turn off their 3G services as early as 2022, however, the decision could jeopardize the elderly population with fewer resources, as well as a set of critical services that still depend on technology to communicate.
As 5G gains traction around the world, older mobile networks are starting to shut down. In the United States, telecom operators have plans to phase out 3G networks as early as 2022 in order to make more room for fifth-generation ones. However, the decision could leave part of the North American population, as well as several essential services in the country, without connection to communications and exacerbate the difficulties generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington Post reports that, although data on how many Americans depend on critical devices and services that run on 3G networks is scarce, it is estimated that at least 20% of the country’s population falls into this category.
The main telecom operators in the United States are showing some resistance regarding the delay in the transition, arguing that they have been issuing alerts over time and that they are taking steps to ensure that all their customers stay connected.
AT&T plans to shut down its 3G service in February 2022, followed by Verizon, which plans to end its services by the end of that year, and T-Mobile, which will apply the measure even to the 3D networks it obtained with the purchase of Sprint, which has the same intentions.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already launched an online guide on the subject, with recommendations for users and more than 2,000 partners across the country.
However, there is a vast array of services that depend on 3G networks: from sensors that record the route of school buses to digital breathalyzers used by the police, this being an issue that also affects the alarm industry.
According to organizations calling on regulators to delay change, older populations with fewer resources will be most affected. If steps are not taken to help modernize equipment such as telephones or early warning systems designed for the elderly, this segment of the population may find themselves unable to, for example, call emergency services.
Source: with agencies