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Consumers get wakeup call when 3G service goes out

Temporary outage becomes permanent in 2022
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Some Verizon 3G customers were upset when they awoke Monday with no mobile service. Verizon employees apparently didn’t make it better when they told one customer it was time to get rid of his old 3G flip phone.

”They said it must be an outage somewhere, they didn’t know anything about it,” said Verizon customer David Bailey. “He did say they are gonna be dropping 3G, but there wasn’t any notice they were gonna be dropping it today.”

Bailey and some other customers were briefly misinformed that the 3G service had permanently ended Monday, but it turned out to be a temporary outage in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area. Part of what upset Bailey was the sales pitch he then received to buy an upgraded phone.

What he didn’t realize, and many customers will soon learn, is that most customers with the older 3G phones will have to upgrade in the coming year.

That’s because the 3G network requires separate maintenance from the newer 4G and 5G services, and the consumer demand for 3G is dwindling by design. Verizon first warned back in 2016 it would shut down its 3G network.

Verizon has changed the end dates several times but now insists the final day of 3G service will be December 31, 2022. According to V.P. Mike Haberman, it will carry 3G service longer than all of its competitors, including AT&T which has announced 3G will go away in February 2022.

“We can now report that more than 99% of our customers are using the enhanced features of 4G LTE or 5G, with less than 1% still accessing the 3G network,” Haberman wrote in a news release on the Verizon website.

Not all 3G phones will be mothballed. AT&T has a list of phones that will still operate on their plans after its 3G network goes dark.

T-Mobile announced it will pull the plug on its 3G networks by March 31, 2022.

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