End of 3G service could leave many disconnected. Here's what to do

Is your cell phone more than a few years old? The FCC warns you may lose service if your provider shuts down its 3G network.


If your mobile phone is more than a few years old, you may need to upgrade before your provider shuts down its 3G network, to avoid losing service, the FCC warns.

Starting as early as Jan. 1 2022, 3G service will no longer work, as cell carriers shut down the old network to make room for 5G service which promises higher speed and greater reliability.

As a result, many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911, or use data services.

When is it happening?

    • AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
    • Verizon announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by Dec. 31, 2022.
    • T-Mobile announced that it will finish shutting down Sprint's 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022 and Sprint's 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. It also announced it will shut down T-Mobile's 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022, but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

If your mobile carrier is not listed here, you may still be affected. Owners of older phones can check with their cell carrier, but it's not just phones that are impacted. Some medical devices, tablets, smart watches, home security systems, and other products might still depend on the 3G network.

What do I need to do?

Contact your mobile provider for more information specific to their 3G retirement plan and whether your phone, or other devices, may be affected.

You may need to upgrade to a newer device to ensure that you can stay connected, and carriers may be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need to upgrade their phones.

WMUR contributed to this report.