Devices using 3G in 2022 will not be able to dial 911

Gogebic County Emergency Management urges the public to switch to 4G or 5G before something goes wrong.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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GOGEBIC COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - As more cell phone carries offer 5G mobile networks, 3G is being phased out.

For major carriers, 3G services will be discontinued next year. That means Tracfones, Jitterbugs, early models of smartphones, and other older devices will not be able to make calls.

Verizon will end its 3G networks in December of 2022. According to Vice President of Network Operations Mike Haberman, only 1% of Verizon customers still use a 3G network. He says the company is working to switch those customers to 4G or 5G.

“As we move closer to the shut off date customers still accessing the 3G network may experience a degradation or complete loss of service, and our service centers will only be able to offer extremely limited troubleshooting help on these older devices,” Haberman said in a statement.

Once 3G is discontinued, that loss of service will also mean the inability to dial 911.

Gogebic County Emergency Management is asking the public to be aware of the coming changes.

“We recommend people check their phones, check their loved ones’ phones, check their friends’ phones, check your provider’s website, to make sure they are up to date and not using a 3G phone,” said Andrew Westeen, Assistant 911 Coordinator for the county.

Westeen says it is critical to act now and talk to your service provider before something goes wrong.

“If an emergency happens, most times emergencies aren’t planned or anything,” he said. “If you’re trying to call 911 and it’s an older phone, you’re not going to reach anyone.”

Upgrading to a 4G or 5G network won’t only allow you to dial 911. Westeen says it will also help first responders get you help as soon as possible.

“The newer phones have better GPS tracking, so if you call 911, they have better location services and they can get to you faster,” said Westeen.

If you have questions about 911 services in Gogebic County, visit the County Courthouse or call Emergency Management at (906) 667-1118.

Verizon plans to discontinue 3G services on December 31, 2022. Sprint will discontinue 3G on January 1, 2022, followed by AT&T in February. Sprint will decommission its LTE network on June 30, 2022.

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