The news: As most carriers have transitioned to 4G LTE networks and more recently 5G connectivity, 3G networks are shutting down in the US to make it easier to roll out newer standards.
3G networks, which were introduced in 2021, took cellphones beyond voice calls and text messages and into an era of wireless data, GPS, mobile apps, and mobile messaging, per Tech Xplore.
Zero dark 3G: The transition will affect some devices and services and could diminish connectivity in areas with less coverage. Carriers have reportedly reached out to subscribers of older devices to inform them of the change and offer transition options for supported devices.
Some background: In 2019, there were as many as 80 million 3G devices in use in North America, according to RCR Wireless. Most of these devices, however, were IoT devices such as cameras and alarm systems.
Many companies worked to replace IoT systems to upgrade them to 4G, and Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics said that there are around 5 million 3G devices left, per CNET.
What’s next? Leaving 3G behind will likely lead customers to choose 5G as the most future-proof option, which could result in an uptick in 5G subscriptions and new smartphone sales. As for security and IoT services, upgrading from 3G is likely to be a more complex and expensive undertaking.