Amazon’s Kindles have long been the device of choice by voracious readers, especially those that want to take their books with them anywhere. Of course, the books they hold inside don’t come from thin air and have to be downloaded directly to the device or transferred from a computer. The former naturally requires an Internet connection, which almost all Kindles have. Unfortunately, some older models support don’t support anything beyond 3G networks, and those will lose their ability to connect to the Internet by the end of the year.
This isn’t a case of Amazon trying to force users to upgrade to newer Kindle models. The e-commerce giant doesn’t have any choice in the matter because network operators are the ones that have decided that it’s finally time to retire those old networks. Since different US networks have different schedules for their 3G shutdown, Amazon decided to just call it quits by December this year, regardless of the actual dates.
Depending on which Kindle model you have, this news could be either be a non-issue or a deal-breaker. Some models, like the fourth-gen Kindle Touch and the eighth-gen Kindle Oasis, will still be able to download books from the Internet directly. That’s because these models support both 3G and Wi-Fi, though the latter naturally requires that they are connected to a (hopefully trusted and secure) access point.
More problematic are the first and second-generation Kindles and the second-gen Kindle DX. These only connect to the Internet via 3G, which means they will lose direct connectivity later this year. They can still use the old-fashioned method of transferring books from a computer over USB, or they can take up Amazon’s offer to get a discount when buying a Kindle Paperwhite.
The Amazon Kindle won’t be alone in facing such a situation next year. Although associated with older products, many modern devices, particularly in the IoT market, may still rely solely on 3G networks. Those will go dark when US carriers shut down those networks starting next year, but they hopefully had enough time to help affected customers to migrate or upgrade to more future-proof products.