Launching 5G -the end of 3G
Beginning this month, January 2022, mobile phone providers will be turning off their 3G networks. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has indicated that some older phones, certain tablets, smart watches, home security systems and personal emergency response systems (aka the help I’ve fallen button) will stop working once 3G networks are turned off.
The FCC has written guidance on what to expect. You can find the article on the FCC website here:
Resolving the issue *might* be as simple as installing an update on your device. In preparation for the 3G retirement, some cell phone providers are offering free, or reduced cost upgrades for older devices.
If you want to know what your individual cell phone provider’s timeline for these updates are, you can find that information on your cell phone providers website page dedicated to 3G questions or call them:
T-Mobile or Sprint shutdowns begin March 31, 2022
Verizon Wireless shutdowns FINISH December 31, 2022
AT&T shutdowns FINISH February 2022
If you received a personal emergency response system through the Medicaid program you can reach out to your case manager at the Department of Human Services office or community action agency that covers your location for further guidance.
If you use a personal emergency response system that you pay for privately you should contact your provider to ask whether their equipment will need to be updated to accommodate the end of the 3G network.
If you, or someone you care for needs a personal emergency response system, check out the FCC’s Lifeline program. This program helps eligible customers who are low-income get a discount on phone services or internet.
For individuals who need access to broadband internet, the FCC offers a discount up to $50 per month during the COVID pandemic. The FCC’s program can also provide a one-time discount. This benefit is expected to continue through March, 1 2022. You may need internet access to participate in telehealth doctor visits, apply for jobs, help family with virtual classes or many other activities.
The following information is copied from the FCC website https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit :
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelinesor participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
The update from 3G to 5G will ultimately improve the speed and access with which we can connect with each other. There are financial assistance programs that can help. This is a good thing! In the meantime, like most things in life, better to plan ahead.
According to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services advises the following sites and resources may be available for those customers where their carriers are unable to assist with the transition:
- Rhode Island Office of Health Aging’s DigiAGE program
- Call 401-462-4444 or 2-1-1
- Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications
o Visit https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers
o E-mail LifelineSupport@usac.org
o Call (800) 234-9473