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What Does the 3G Sunset Mean?

By the end of 2022, US cellular providers are planning to “sunset” 3G networks to free up bandwidth for faster LTE and 5G signals. In fact, the process has already begun.

Simply put, the sunset marks the gradual end of support for aging 3G networks by cellular companies. The slower, outdated networks are eventually being phased out as the cellular companies transition their equipment and support to the newer, faster networks. The new towers being built for the “next generation” of cellular data support both LTE and 5G networks, and the older towers that supported 3G and 4G are being eliminated. As such, the older technology is going dark, and soon.

What does it mean for your alarm systems?

Once 3G networks are completely shut down, any alarm panel that hasn’t been converted to 4G/LTE networks will no longer be able to communicate with your central station. In other words, if there’s an emergency, your system will work locally but the central station will not receive a signal if signals are sent by cellular only. As such, the central station will not know to call the authorities or send help if there is an emergency. This applies to all monitored alarm systems—whether it’s an AFA system or not.

The cutoff date for the 3G sunset is tricky to pin down. Different service providers have different plans for the transition. As of this writing, this is what we know about the 3G sunset dates from the three major carriers in the US:

  • Verizon: Planning to shut down 3G service at the end of 2020
  • AT&T: 3G sunset scheduled for early 2022
  • T-Mobile/Sprint: 3G sunset date on or about January 1, 2022

What Should You Do?

If you haven’t already, you should begin converting all of your 3G network devices to 4G/LTE or 5G (where available) network devices right away. Here’s how AFA Protective Systems can help:

  • If you’re already an AFA customer: Just call AFA and let us know that you’re ready to update your fire alarm or security system. We’ll ​arrange an appointment to send a tech over to update the cell communicator in your alarm panel.
  • If you’re not currently an AFA customer: Consider switching your monitoring services to AFA before the 3G sunset. If you have a system that was installed by another company, AFA may be able to take over your system, fix any problems you’re having, reuse much of the equipment and set up ongoing 24/7 monitoring.

AFA has safety professionals standing by to offer a free consultation concerning the end of 3G and other alarm issues. Call us today to learn more!

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