Cellular carriers are starting to shut down legacy 3G networks, affecting millions of cars. In late February 2022, AT&T became the first major wireless carrier to phase out its 3G network in a so-called “3G sunset” while it continues to upgrade its 5G offerings, and it’s just the first of many.
Verizon wanted to do the same in 2020, and before the end of the year, older connected vehicles in the United States will be without 3G service and in-car internet. For those wondering, 3G connectivity supports many features including emergency notifications, remote start and more.
Several features could stop working on 3G-connected cars as carriers transition to 4G and 5G services, and here’s what you can do about it.
When will my vehicle lose 3G?
The first carrier to shut down its 3G network is AT&T, which has flipped the switch February 22, 2022. Other major carriers will do the same in the coming weeks and months.
This will affect everyone from Acura, Audi, Honda, Tesla, Toyota, Subaru, Volkswagen, Nissan, Volvo, etc. Cars with Verizon have a little longer to go as the company has announced that it will be slowly ending support for 3G and the network is finally being shut down through December 31, 2022. Those with T-Mobile will see networks shut down by July 1, 2022, with 2G networks closing later. T-Mobile also confirmed that Sprint’s CDMA network will go under March 31, 2022.
As you can see, by the end of the year, all major US carriers will be phasing out 3G.
How losing 3G will affect your vehicle
In the last decade, millions of cars and trucks were fitted with 3G connectivity services before 4G and 5G were a thing. Unfortunately, many lose some or even all of their associated functionality. Some of these include emergency alerts or notifications in case of accidents, SOS mode, real-time navigation, remote diagnostics, remote start, remote unlock, HVAC control, OTA software updates and more.
Automakers are aware of this issue, and some are actively working on fixes or may offer upgrade paths soon. But acc consumer reportswhile manufacturers can upgrade many cars, millions of others will lose some of these services forever.
At this time, the overall impact is unknown and will vary by vehicle, date of manufacture and 3G services or carrier.
What do you do next?
Some owners may not have any issues and instead receive an over-the-air software update from the manufacturer, while others may have to go to a retailer to get updates. For example, Ford and Mazda use the emergency call connections of the driver’s mobile device, so that’s not a problem. Unfortunately, others require a physical upgrade to 4G, and those costs can range from a small fee to $900 if you own select Honda models.
Another example is 2015 and older Tesla vehicles that will soon lose 3G, but owners can plan to upgrade for $200. Additionally, Volkswagen and others will offer third-party solutions that can go as high as $295 for the upgrade and monthly fees for unlimited data.
Again, this varies from vehicle to vehicle and depends on which features and 3G services are used. We recommend anyone who owns an older 3G connected car to contact their dealer or manufacturer for more information.
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