When Your 3G Telephone’s Disconnected, Right here Are Your Choices


Serving to my member of the family get a “free” 4G cellphone from T-Cellular was surprisingly sophisticated, particularly with the corporate making very clear that its 3G community was retiring in weeks. They did obtain a textual content message stating they had been eligible for a brand new 4G-compatible OnePlus cellphone — however in contrast to different carriers who’re handing out free 4G telephones — T-Cellular required a trade-in of a tool that was in good situation.

That requirement is what made it troublesome. My member of the family has been utilizing an iPhone 5S first bought in 2014, and the cellphone’s display is steadily separating itself from the remainder of the cellphone’s physique. This iPhone 5S was initially bought for Verizon and wasn’t appropriate with T-Cellular’s LTE community. The cellphone is in any other case not often used, as this member of the family prefers to make use of an iPad at house so we have now them on a really low cost $3 monthly pay as you go plan.

Ought to I try and commerce within the clearly broken iPhone? Ought to we dig out another functioning cellphone and commerce that in? And since we’re in the end paying for service, what occurs if we will not get this member of the family a brand new system forward of the 3G shutdown?

These problems led me to surprise wider than simply this T-Cellular expertise, and I reached out to the three main carriers T-Cellular, Verizon and AT&T to learn how these carriers are helping prospects who may have extra time earlier than transferring to a more moderen cellphone.

Wireless carrier logos on phones

The 3G networks for T-Cellular, Dash and AT&T have been retired, and Verizon’s is subsequent.


Angela Lang/CNET

Ending 3G networks could be a good factor

Whereas the shutdown of 3G networks does disconnect older telephones and gadgets from entry to mobile networks, it does create a number of alternatives to enhance cellphone performance throughout primary telephones and smartphones.

Anshel Sag, a mobility analyst from Moor Insights and Technique, famous that transferring prospects away from these much less safe gadgets additionally strikes them towards higher calling experiences like higher-quality voice-over-LTE audio calls.

“I do assume the patron ought to have a sure stage of selection however on the identical time the straggling customers can turn into a burden on the remainder of the consumer base by way of entry to new providers,” Sag mentioned. These enhanced VoLTE calls, for example, are actually obtainable throughout each smartphones and 4G-capable primary telephones.

And though Verizon, T-Cellular and AT&T are brazenly creating their 5G networks, prospects who transfer to 4G-only gadgets needn’t fear about being compelled onto one other cellphone within the close to future. Sag estimated that 4G LTE networks have loads of life to go.

“We’re in all probability one other 10 years till the 4G shutdown,” Sag mentioned. He famous that radio waves beforehand used for 3G also can change to enhance sooner 5G networks because the carriers work to enhance their protection.

Whereas Sag famous there’s at all times going to be a share of shoppers who select to not transfer to a more moderen system, he mentioned that it stays within the carriers’ finest curiosity to both assist provide new gadgets or to cease billing.

“These prospects are legacy prospects that they’ve had a really very long time as a perform of how lengthy 3G has been round,” Sag mentioned.

T-mobile logo

T-Cellular’s 3G community is retired, however its 2G community remains to be energetic.


James Martin/CNET

T-Cellular (and Dash’s) community shutdown

T-Cellular is the newest service to retire its 3G networks, having turned off its 3G UMTS community on July 1. Along with that community, T-Cellular additionally sundown Dash’s 3G community on March 31. T-Cellular does nonetheless have an older 2G community that’s slated for retirement, however no clear dates have been given simply but. 

A T-Cellular spokesperson mentioned that affected prospects had been notified and are nonetheless eligible for a free substitute system by buying and selling of their older 3G cellphone.

“Prospects with 3G-dependent telephones who haven’t but taken motion to improve are nonetheless eligible to obtain a free substitute by buying and selling of their older 3G system. The overwhelming majority of these with UMTS gadgets who haven’t but upgraded are lined by T-Cellular’s 2G GSM community and proceed to obtain service,” the spokesperson mentioned. 

T-Cellular additionally pointed us to its network evolution customer support page, which matches into additional depth about efforts to succeed in prospects and the dates that every earlier community reached retirement. 

AT&T logo on a mobile phone

AT&T’s 3G community sundown in February.


James Martin/CNET

AT&T has stopped charging prospects who have not upgraded

AT&T’s 3G community was shuttered on Feb. 22. Within the lead as much as the shutdown, the service posted on its support page that affected prospects had been contacted and should have obtained free telephones or SIM playing cards within the mail to be able to keep their protection.

Within the occasion an AT&T buyer did not activate a 4G-compatible system, they may now not be charged for service.

“If a buyer’s billing cycle ended after the 3G service closing date, we supplied a credit score and they won’t obtain extra payments,” AT&T mentioned in a press release to CNET.

Verizon logo

Verizon’s 3G community shuts down on the finish of 2022.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon’s shutdown shall be final, and there is time to get a free cellphone

Verizon’s 3G network will turn off on Dec. 31, leaving months of time for purchasers to maneuver to a tool that’s appropriate with a minimum of its 4G LTE community.

Verizon is within the means of sending out free 4G-capable telephones to affected prospects, which shall be older flip telephones made by TCL, Nokia and Orbic. The gadgets do not require any trade-in and are being proactively despatched. Prospects who don’t desire one among these telephones can name customer support to say no the supply.

Ought to a buyer resolve that they do not need to transfer their service onto a 4G system, Verizon will cease charging as soon as the 3G community is shut down.

“If a buyer decides to remain on the 3G system (regardless of additional urging by name brokers or retail reps), then that system would cease working at sundown. The shopper wouldn’t be billed as soon as they’re disconnected from the community,” a Verizon rep mentioned in an electronic mail to CNET.

For those who want extra time to modify telephones, you possibly can nonetheless use your cellphone to backup vital knowledge

After 3G networks are utterly turned off, the cellphone you may have will not be utterly ineffective. Whereas it may well’t connect with mobile knowledge, you may nonetheless have restricted entry to options over Wi-Fi equivalent to entry to your contacts and Wi-Fi calling, the place it is supported.

Whereas precise processes will differ relying on whether or not you’re utilizing a 3G-only smartphone or primary cellphone, it is best to be capable to make sure that your vital contacts, calendars and notes that reside on the cellphone are backed as much as one other service or saved to allow them to be loaded into one other system later.

Many 3G telephones are probably now not receiving safety updates, and so whereas the system may work it’s crucial to guarantee that it is not the one place the place vital data is saved.

iPhone SE and iPhone 8

A retired 2016 iPhone SE (much like the mannequin seen right here on the left, paired with an iPhone 8) was capable of repair my household’s 3G transition.


César Salza/CNET

Fixing my household’s transition with out assist from T-Cellular

Returning to my member of the family’s 3G transition, I made a decision to convey each the broken iPhone 5S and a long-retired 2014 Moto E as a backup to T-Cellular’s retailer. Each telephones had been denied, and after we requested the consultant about different choices, he advised me he could not say something.

The expertise was understandably disappointing and appeared to go away us with just some weeks to resolve whether or not it would be worthwhile to purchase a cellphone that we knew would solely be sparingly used. 

We in the end resolved this by discovering one other member of the family’s retired iPhone SE and swapping the SIM card to that, however the expertise made it fairly apparent that one other household won’t be capable to simply luck out upon a brand new handset.

T-Cellular’s spokesperson advised me that the shop’s denial is not the service’s coverage, apologized for that have and provided to resolve the difficulty by its Buyer Care group.

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