Pa. organizations urge residents to transition from 3G to 5G service

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are reminding residents to prepare for the phasing out of the 3G cell service.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T have announced plans to shut down their 3G cellular networks for faster, more advanced 5G services. Some of these companies have announced they will be switching over to the 5G service as early as February of 2022.

Because of this switch, older cell phones who have 3G connectivity will not be able to receive phone calls, text messages, and other data services. Devices such as medical alert devices and home security systems will also be affected.

For years, Bill Christian’s son had an old 3G phone until they got a note from AT&T saying its 3G network will be shut down next month.

“For my son’s case, being special needs, if he’s out there or anything happens, we can call him, make sure he’s at. There are little apps so I can see where he’s at in the community,” Christian said. “I thought about getting him the Jitterbug phone or something like that and out of the clear blue, AT&T just sent me a phone, nicer than the one I have for my son, so now he actually has a nicer phone than I do. Didn’t ask for it and they didn’t charge.”

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“The best plan of action is to contact your service provider to determine if your devices are compliant,” PEMA Deputy for 911 Jeff Boyle said. “It’s important to plan now so you don’t lose connectivity.”

Users of older phones that are used only for 911 connectivity may not receive the notification if they do not have active services with a carrier. Residents with these types of 911 phones should check with the organization that provided the phone about options they may have.

According to Julie Bancroft, the chief public affairs officer with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, this switchover will impact many victims of domestic violence.

“I can generally say this will impact the most vulnerable in our state including victims and survivors of domestic violence who may have older phones,” Bancroft told abc27. “We would recommend that if someone has a phone that may be impacted that they familiarize themselves with their local domestic violence program now.”

“If your mobile phone is more than a few years old, you may need to upgrade your device before your provider shuts down its 3G network and you lose service – including the ability to call 911,” Lt. Adam Reed, PSP Communications Office Director said. “During an emergency, every minute counts whether you need police, fire, or medical assistance.”

Low-income individuals concerned that their 911-only phones will no longer be supported should consider applying for the FCC’s Lifeline program, You can find more information about the program by clicking here.

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