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By Kellee Jordan
Telegram Reporter 

5G network increase may require some mobile users to upgrade their mobile device


January 20, 2022

New Year, New Phone! While5G, the fifth-generation mobile network increase coverage, it may be time for an upgraded phone. 5G is a fast, strong, and reliable higher multi-Gbps peak data speed increase, with ultra-low latency, massive network availability and a uniform experience; a new experience that requires new technology. The Federal Communication Commission announced in October 2021 that consumers should Plan Ahead for Phase Out of 3G Cellular Networks and Service. Cellphone users with a mobile phone more than a few years old, may need a new phone before mobile providers shut down 3G network, to avoid losing service.

Some consumers are ready to upgrade, others are hesitant about losing information from their phone and some just hoping not to increase their bill payments. Jackie Marshall, a ten-year Tracfone consumer, she will be affected by this shut down. "I'm not excited about getting a new phone because I haven't done my own research," says Marshall, "5G just sound like more money I don't want to pay."

As mobile carriers provide support for 5G, 3G devices, including medical devices, home security systems, vehicle SOS and certain older 4G mobile phones will be unable to call, text or make 911 calls. Tablets, smart watches, and other products connected to 3G network will be affected. Some mobile phones may just need a software update. The latest 5G technology requires more spectrum and infrastructure and mobile carriers are advancing network services to make space.

Some Federal Communication Commission programs may also be able to assist eligible consumers with phone cost and internet services. You should check their website for more information. Companies may too be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need a new mobile phone. Marshall recalls, "At some point Tracfone upgraded from a 2G to a 3G and when they did that, they sent me a free phone." Marshall's current 3G Alcatel OneTouch flip phone will likely no longer work once the network shuts down, however Tracfone has confirmed, much like other carriers, there are eligible customers to receive a free phone.

"I do have to call Tracfone and see what my options are", says Marshall. Tracfone utilize Verizon network, which is good news for Marshall since the Verizon 3G network will completely shut down Dec 31, 2022, giving Marshall all year to figure out her plans. Other carriers plan to shut down their 3G much sooner. AT&T's 3G network will shut down by end of February 2022. T-Mobile's Sprint 3G CDMA network will shut down Mar 31, 2022, and its 4G LTE UMTS network will shut down Jun. 30, 2022. T-Mobile 3G UMTS network will shut down July 1, 2022. If your mobile provider is not listed, they may still be affected as several other mobile carriers like Cricket, Straight Talk and Boost utilize AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

The FCC advises consumers to contact their mobile provider directly to know if their phone will be affected and to best guide them on which phone to purchase. Some carrier websites list devices that will no longer be supported after 3G networks shut down. Marshall was notified by a friend last month about 3G shut down. "My friends just like Gina is always trying to get me to get a smartphone," she explains. "I'm not one of those people whose phone is like an extension of me." The cellphone user admits its "not glued to the hip", she only uses her mobile device when she is not at home, meeting with someone and traveling. "If you're going to contact me...that's not the best number to contact me on." Marshall has a landline and other technology to receive emails.

5G has been operating since early 2019. The technology is set to improve performance, efficiency, and connectivity. The new technology expands the mobile ecosystem, allowing connection to machines. The design is to deliver more capacity and immediate response. "You know I might have to do what they did n the 20th century," Marshall adds if her cellular device stop working. "Call from your house, making no contact with whomever you are meeting until the time set in place.

5G might not be here for a long time, but it will be here for a good time and while we have access to this new network we might as well make the best of it. Be sure to check directly with your mobile providers via phone or website to see if you need to upgrade your phone and your best financial option to do so.


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