Jun 03, 2022|

Does the 3G Shutdown Affect Your Vivint System?

If you have a cell phone, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of 3G. This wireless network enabled cell phones, tablets, and security devices, among other things, to connect wirelessly to the internet.

3G has been around for over 20 years, which is a lifetime in the technology world. In order to make room for new technology, mobile carriers have begun shutting down—or sunsetting—their 3G networks. If you still have devices running on 3G technology, that means it’s time to upgrade.

Read on to find out what 3G is, what’s affected by the 3G sunset, and how to ensure your Vivint security devices stay connected.

Woman on cell phone in her kitchen.
 

What is 3G, anyway?

3G networks are the third generation of cellular technology and allowed cell phones, home security and home monitoring systems, and other devices to wirelessly connect to the internet. Thanks to 3G networks, people were able to do a number of things like access the internet via smartphones and tablets, stream videos on mobile devices, and integrate GPS with cars.

3G revolutionized the way we use our devices and access information. In terms of cellular technology, it was a gamechanger. But like all technology, it has continued to advance. Today, most smartphones, smart home devices, and home security systems run on 4G and 5G networks that enable faster speeds, more bandwidth, and more opportunities for connectivity.

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Why and when is 3G going away?

Beginning in early 2022, wireless carriers began phasing out the 3G network. There are a few reasons for sunsetting 3G. Phasing out 3G frees up the infrastructure needed to support faster 5G networks, which wouldn’t be as fast if 3G continued to use the spectrum 5G runs on. It’s also more cost-efficient to operate.

So when will 3G be shut down? This depends on the provider and company, but the main cellular providers indicate they plan to shut down their 3G units by the end of 2022. AT&T completed their 3G network shutdown in February, while Verizon’s 3G will be operable until December 2022. After these shutdown dates, your device may not be supported unless you upgrade or update to newer equipment that supports 4G or 5G.

What industries will be impacted?

The most obvious impact of the 3G sunset will be to cell phones. Older cell phones that run on a 3G network (including the iPhone 5 and any iPhone made before that) will no longer be able to make or receive calls or use data services.

According to a recent Federal Communications Center (FCC) report, about 43.7 million 3G devices are still in use. This number includes more than cell phones. Many of the everyday devices you use that may no longer operate properly after the 3G network shutdown include:

  • Home security systems
  • Tablets
  •  Senior devices, including senior alert bracelets
  • Smart watches
  • Roadside assistance systems in cars

 

An armed Vivint Smart Hub mounted on a wall.
 

3G and home security systems

Home security systems rely on cellular data to not only keep devices running and communicating, but to connect you to their central monitoring center. Home security systems that rely on 3G networks will still sound an alarm if triggered after the 3G sunset; however, your system’s monitoring center won’t be notified that a fire or burglar alarm has gone off and won’t be able to contact emergency services.

In addition, with a Vivint system, our monitoring won’t be able to communicate with you over the panel in the event of an emergency.

What you should do now

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve already upgraded your devices from 3G without even knowing about it; for example, AT&T says less than 1% of their mobile data traffic was 3G before they shut down their 3G networks in February.

Depending on your device or system, you may need to upgrade to a new device. In some cases, you may only need to update your firmware or software. Here are a few things you should do to make sure you stay connected after the 3G sunset:

  • Check your mail. Most companies, including Vivint and cell phone companies, are communicating with their customers via mail. Check your mail carefully from providers before tossing it to make sure it’s not important information from your providers.
  • Check your provider’s website. Check your provider’s website for news on when their 3G networks will be shutting down. They may also include a list of devices that will be affected by the shutdown.
  • Contact your service provider. If you have any questions, the best thing to do is contact your provider’s company directly.

Is my Vivint security system affected?

Most Vivint devices do not rely on 3G. However, if you have older versions of the Smart Hub, there’s a chance it still uses 3G and will need a firmware update in order to keep you connected. Vivint has been sending letters to anyone impacted by the upcoming 3G shutdown. If you have any questions about whether or not your system is affected, give our customer service reps a call at 855.822.1220 today.

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