Going, going, gone: How the 3G phase-out can impact your security and alarm systems

National

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Going, going, gone. Cellular companies are starting to phase out the 3G network. If you’re using an old phone or security and alarm system, you may lose that service. 

It is called the 3G Sunset. The slow cell service has been around for two decades and companies are planning to deactivate it. Any device that still uses 3G will need to make the switch in about eight months.

Audio Video Innovations does many things from home automation to security systems and video surveillance. Vice president Eric Peters said while there may be phones out there that are still using 3G, there aren’t many as our phones have adapted to the latest networks.

Peters said when it comes to security and alarm systems, that’s where the systems are a bit behind. 

“Unless you’ve had your system installed recently, then it’s going to need to be changed,” he said. “The systems have only had LTE communicators over the last year and a half to maybe two and a half years.”

That means you may have to call your provider even if your system is a couple of years old. If you don’t, your system won’t work. 

“Anyone who has an alarm that works on cellular technology has to have it replaced or they may not be able to communicate with their central station,” said Peters. 

The deadline is February 2022, as AT&T will be getting rid of its 3G network. Verizon will follow ending theirs on December 31. 2022. 

This can even affect emergency response systems like life alerts. With such critical systems in play, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee is fighting to get an extension after the pandemic set crews behind. 

“The problem is, senior citizens are the population who are the most reluctant to have people come into their home during COVID-19, and they’re just now starting to allow us to do that,” said Bill Signer, the Carmen Group managing director. “We knew that if we had a clear time period of three years to put together a plan, having experience, then along comes COVID-19.”

A concern is there are six million households and businesses who will need to make the switch. 

“It’s not that we’re unsympathetic, we understand, you know we had enough time in the normal world. But this is not a normal world. So we hope that they will see the light here,” said Lou Fiore, the Chair for the Alarm Industry Communications Committee.

The committee said even if they can get the date pushed back to have both AT&T and Verizon end 3G on December 31, 2022, it will be gone soon. 

Peters said you should be getting a call or an email from your alarm company about making the switch. 

“It’s definitely not a scam so if you haven’t heard from your alarm company by the end of the year, then I’d be concerned that they’re not doing their due diligence and reaching out to you,” said Peters. 

He said it’s wise to get ahead of it because there have been shortages. The microchips needed for these upgrades have been delayed. It has companies urging people to make the call before it’s too late.

“As that deadline gets closer, it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

Peters says it should not cost a lot of money. He said his business, as well as some others, are paying for the upgrades or offering incentives to make the switch. 

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