As the world moves slowly but surely towards supporting 5G, network operators are itching to finally ditch the oldest cellular networks they’re still supporting. After an initial wave of outcry and complaints, probably from commercial customers, US carriers have decided to delay shutting down their 3G services at least until 2022. It seems that AT&T will indeed be the first to do so by February 2022 and it has thankfully released a list of devices that will continue to work beyond that cutoff date.
3G was the bread and butter of cellular communication back in the day, allowing even some form of web browsing, depending on the phone or network. Even feature phones today, however, support 4G connections so carriers have been trying to reduce their operation costs by shutting down a network that they claim is no longer really being used anyway. T-Mobile’s shutdown won’t happen until April next year while Verizon is pushing it further to the end of 2022.
AT&T, however, no longer has qualms in pushing through with its February 2022 deadline, at least for now. As always, such big disruptive changes can cause some confusion as to whether a subscriber’s device will continue working once 3G goes away. AT&T does provide a list of smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches that will continue working beyond that date. Suffice it to say, if it’s not on that list, it’s not going to work next year.
In addition to supporting 4G networks, the phones that AT&T’s network will support need to also be capable of HD Voice calls. Fortunately, most modern phones do have those and are covered. Unfortunately, there might still be some AT&T customers out there with 3G-only or non-HD phones.
The only path forward for these customers would be to upgrade their phones, presuming they still want to stay on the network. AT&T does recommend that customers who don’t want to switch phones disconnect their lines since those won’t work on the old phones anyway. Jumping to another carrier that still supports 3G might also not be a practical choice since all of them will be shutting down their networks by 2022 eventually.