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The 3G Shutting down: How Will It Affect Your Phone?

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

All three major US carriers are shutting down their 3G networks. Here's when it's happening and how you might be affected.

All of the major US 3G networks are scheduled to shut down in 2022. Whether you're with AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, this may affect your phone, your home alarm system, or even your car. Let's break down exactly what is happening and what you can expect.

When Is 3G Shutting Down?

The FCC's official page shows the 3G shutdown time frames for each carrier:

  • AT&T officially shut down its 3G network on February 22, 2022. However, reports on Reddit say it is still spottily available.

  • The Sprint 3G network, which Boost shares, was previously scheduled to shut down on March 31, 2022, but now may stay alive until May 31, 2022.

  • T-Mobile's 3G network will shut down by July 1, 2022, but its 2G network will stay alive in an extremely limited way.

  • Verizon's 3G network will shut down by December 31, 2022.

The carriers say that they will contact you by phone or postcard if the shutdown affects you, and will most likely offer you a free, new 4G or 5G phone. However, some people may fall through the cracks—for instance, if you're using a hand-me-down phone for which your carrier doesn't have a current ownership record.

What Devices Will Fail?

According to the CTIA, about 9% of wireless connections remaining in the US are 2G or 3G. That includes phones, tablets, home alarm systems, medical alert devices, cars, and other machinery.

The iPhone 6 and all newer iPhones are all fine; ditto for the Galaxy S5 generation of phones and later. In general, smartphones that launched after 2014 and flip phones that launched after 2017 should continue to work.

However, gray-market devices that weren't designed for US networks, including international variants of popular Samsung phones, are getting cut off. For more on that, see our story on why your AT&T smartphone may suddenly stop working.

If your phone doesn't say "4G LTE" or "5G" in its status bar when Wi-Fi is off, there's a good chance it is a 3G phone and will no longer work after the shutoff. AT&T published a specific list of phones that still work after the change. For phones on other carriers, just look for the indicator in the status bar.

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