I remember when 3G was the biggest thing for mobile data. The first step into “high speed” (sort of). Obviously, our expectations weren’t so high back then. It was a huge jump for mobile devices though until it was later surpassed by 4G when it first started rolling out in 2009. Since then, no one ever wanted to think about the mediocre speeds that came with 3G.
Fast forward to 2022, less than 1% of devices still make use of 3G networks. Most are just options that rely on the most basic of connected features. Everything else has been pushed toward 4G or 4G LTE by just about every provider or company out there.
With this, cellular carriers have decided that it is time to let 3G go finally and bury it in the sand to be forgotten as we move toward faster technologies. Like the current 5G that makes 3G look like it belongs sitting next to a floppy disk somewhere in a museum.
The first of these companies will be AT&T, which will be throwing the switch tomorrow (February 22nd). Any device that depends strictly on 3G will lose connectivity.
Soon after, T-Mobile will be following with Sprint’s network in March and then with its own in July. Finally, Verizon will flip its own switch at the very end of the year. Therefore, 2022 marks the end of 3G connectivity nationwide.
Not much of a concern unless you haven’t upgraded your mobile phone in the last 10+ years. Of course, less than 1% is still a number. Therefore someone, somewhere, will be affected by this change. Most of which are not phone devices or tablets, but instead special security systems or tracking solutions. Thankfully, it will be a very small impact. However, if you do fall into this crowd, you will be wanting to upgrade said devices before your carrier takes the network down.
3G had a good run though given the number of years it has been actively in use. The first 3G network began rolling out at the start of 2002, making it 20 years old this year. And like everything else technology-wise, an expiration date is inevitable.
On the plus side of things, the resources that will be freed up are to be merged into current technologies to strengthen 5G networks around the country. 5G is definitely a huge step in wireless data for mobile devices, home internet connections, city infrastructure, and more.
Though I do wonder about data limits where 3G is used as a threat for when you use too much 4G. T-Mobile, for example, uses 3G as a fallback when you use up all of the USB/Wi-Fi tethering data within your plan. So if you have 10GB of tethering in your plan and you use it up, you fall into 3G for the rest of the month for “unlimited” (slower) use. Thus this must mean your penalty might not be as bad in the future. Hopefully, at least, as 3G can be unbearable when it comes to modern expectations.