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How Security and PERS Professionals Can Prepare for the 3G Sunset

Jan 24, 2022 8:00:00 AM

Three of the largest cell phone service providers are shutting down their 3G networks next year. Do you still have customers on 3G devices and networks? Are you prepared to make the switch and upgrade your customers to newer equipment? 

When Will Major Carriers Shut Down Their 3G Networks 

AT&T plans on shutting down their 3G network in February of 2022, while Verizon has pushed their date back for a few years now, the company has finally landed on what they believe to be a firm date of December 2022.  

T-Mobile is taking a stepped approach to shutting down their 3G networks. They plan on starting with the Sprint 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022, as well as Sprints 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022 (if you remember, T-Mobile acquired Sprint a few years ago). Following that will be T-mobile’s 3G UMTS network which will be put to rest by July 1st, 2022.  

In the most recent AG Webinar Series titled "3G Sunset, Commercial Fire and CellBounce," Doug Marshall from Resideo talks about the approaching 3G sunset and solutions for your business. Watch the webinar below for his great insight on this topic.


Why Is 3G Going Away 

As new, better and faster mobile technologies become the norm for consumers, mobile carriers need to create more infrastructure to support these technologies. Often, they can upgrade existing comms with newer technology. This ultimately means shutting down older networks to be upgraded instead of building more and leaving old towers upright. Think of it as remodeling the bathroom in your house. You wouldn’t just build a new bathroom right next to your old bathroom, would you?  

Unfortunately, when this technology is gone, the one’s that are impacted the most are low income households and the elderly. Many seniors rely on PERS devices to keep them safe in case of an emergency, like a sudden medical event or a fall. But many of those seniors are using devices that are still on 3G or older technology.  

A Brief History of Cellular Technology  

Many of us probably don’t ever remember hearing the term 1G. Essentially 1G networks is what enabled mobile phones (remember those huge brick phones in Saved By The Bell, or Michael Douglas holding one in Wall Street?) to become relevant. This eliminated the need for word or phone cards. But calls were all that could be made on those phones.  

As technology advanced to 2G, we were now able to send text messages. Anybody else remember the first time they saw in a movie theater ‘and please, no texting during the movie’ and thought how weird that was to see?  

Following 2G, the far more advanced and sophisticated 3G brought modern advancements that many of us are used to and enjoy in our daily lives. 3G enabled us to surf the internet on our phone, make video calls and had all around much faster data speeds.  

4G is the era of streaming. With faster transmission speeds, we are able to play games over the internet and stream 4K video and make Zoom calls without it being a choppy mess. This also enabled strong enough cellular signals for PERS devices to rely on so users can leave the house and still be covered even without GPS. 

5G is around the corner — it’s kind of here already, but kind of not also — and promises speeds that can support things like vast telemedicine networks and virtual reality. But in order to create this enhanced and speedy network, they have to upgrade old 3G towers; hence, 3G is going away. 

Who Does the 3G Sunset Impact 

According to OpenSignal, in 2019, there were still 30 million users on 3G networks. Over 80% of those users didn’t have a 4G plan while 13% lived in areas where 4G signals were unavailable. And as mentioned above, the majority of those users were (and still are) senior citizens. The same study also found that California, Texas and Florida were the states that had the largest population of 3G-only users.  

Although this largely impacts senior citizens, there are many other industries that still rely on 3G technology such as lone-workers and fleets. Zonar Fleet Management Solutions estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 devices that operate on 3G technology are still out in the field. 

Regardless of the industry, you should not wait till the last moment to let your customers know now is the time to upgrade. You don’t want to deal with a flood of calls when 3G shuts down or angry customers leaving nasty reviews because they were unaware that their systems were going to stop working. Here’s how to be proactive. 

Preparing for the 3G Sunset 

If you have customers on 3G networks, start your preparations immediately to get those customers upgraded to new technology by curating a list of all customers who are still on existing 3G networks. To get the most comprehensive list, compare the list you create to the list provided by your monitoring center. 

Next, begin purchasing new equipment that communicates using 4G, LTE and 5G technology. To be as cost effective as possible, reach out to wholesale equipment dealers to purchase bulk devices. Also be on the lookout for promotions or deals to save money. 

The next part, and quite possibly the most difficult, is getting your customers to upgrade. But this lends itself for a great opportunity to provide promotions for your customers. You may want to consider providing them with a free month of service for upgrading or free installation or a demo for using new equipment. Or perhaps an add-on to their existing system such as a free security camera or secondary mPERS device. 

Using a promotion is a tried-and-true way that cell phone companies get customers to upgrade. Often you see promotions such as “trade in your old phone and get two phones for the price of one.” These promotions help encourage customers to upgrade with less apprehension. 

Finally, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to start contacting your customers about upgrading. Use additional promotions as extra incentive to get them to upgrade. And if you have a large subscriber list that needs upgrading, break your list into smaller chunks and set weekly goals to get customers to upgrade. 

What 5G Can Do

President of AvantGuard, Justin Bailey, discusses how 5G can change the landscape of the security monitoring industry in the video below.


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