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3G to 5G will leave millions of devices obsolete

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:10 PM EST
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(CNN) - A 20-year era is coming to an end.

Major cell phone carriers are boasting higher-speeds thanks to 5G, but they’re also set to phase out 3G networks this year.

This will render many older cell phones obsolete.

No data, text or calls, including to 911.

The 3G shutdown is a natural evolution in the technology world, but tech experts like Tom Kamber with the AARP are sharing an urgent warning.

“The level of gravity is very high for us,” he said.

He says many Americans are not prepared for the wave of 3G devices that will soon lose connectivity.

Older cell phones, some car navigation and emergency services, home security systems, and even some medical devices like emergency alert pendants might be useless without taking action.

Kamber says one group is especially vulnerable.

“Older Americans are most at risk from this transition because first of all they’re the group that tends to hold onto devices a little bit longer,” he said.

Tino Perez, a technology expert and founder of LAPC networking, says he has seen first-hand the reluctance to upgrade.

“They’re more afraid to the technology, especially older people,” he said.

He warns those customers could be left in the dark. Without access to Wi-Fi at home, there will be no more texts or calls.

“Obviously if they’re using these types of phones, they’re gonna be out completely. They’re not gonna be able to use the old 2G and 3G technology,” Perez said.

Col. James Manni, head of state police in Rhode Island, is working to get the message out.

He fears the shutdown will have a tremendous impact on emergency services.

“Very simply, it’s very serious. If you don’t upgrade your 3G phone, you’ll be unable to connect to 911,” Manni said.

Kamber says don’t panic. It’s a golden opportunity for some digital hygiene.

“The first thing we want them to think about is just this is a moment to take a take an hour and just do a check through of what kind of connectivity you have in your house that is mobile based,” he said.

If you have a 3G device, consider upgrading now or contact your providers for details on next steps.

An upgrade doesn’t have to break the bank. Cell phones can run under $200.

Some cell phones are able to text and call via only Wi-Fi at home.

Here are some important deadlines to mark on your calendar.

AT&T shuts down 3G next month, T-Mobile by July and Verizon by the end of the year.

And some car makers like Honda are offering a free upgrade window on some models.

Honda’s ends next month.

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