LUBBOCK, Texas — Emergency Medical Services for University Medical Center said Thursday that planning for the retirement of 3G networks could save your life.

Mobile phones using 3G will no longer have call/text capabilities, but it’s not just phones that will be affected.

Jerin Tyler, the Communication Chief for UMC Health Emergency Medical System, said medical devices like Life Alert and Lifeline might use cellular networks. So, if someone is experiencing an emergency and attempts to send a medical alert using a 3G device, EMS may not receive the notification.

“You could have a 3G network that transmits your home alarm system,” Tyler said.

If you have a fire or break-in on a 3G network, first responders may not receive the alert, which is why “it’s important to check your equipment,” Tyler explained.

Tyler also said vehicles often have automatic crash notification systems that rely on cellular networks. Older vehicles may be more likely to use 3G.

If you’re not sure if your devices use 3G, UMC EMS recommends calling the provider.

“Undoubtedly, your carrier [has] probably contacted you if your device is older. That may seem like an advertisement to get you to buy a new device, but really, it would be worth the time to review those devices,” said Nathan Kizer, the Executive Director of the Lubbock Emergency Communication District.

Kizer said providers might list affected devices on their website and encouraged people to check.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said 3G cellular networks might retire as early as January 1, 2022, but the timeline will vary based on the provider:

  • AT&T announced that it would finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
  • Verizon announced it would finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31, 2022.
  • T-Mobile announced that it would finish shutting down Sprint’s 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022, and Sprint’s 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. It also announced it would shut down T-Mobile’s 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022, but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

The FCC noted that the above dates reference the completion of the shutdowns, but carriers may begin retiring parts of their networks sooner.

If your mobile carrier isn’t listed above, the FCC said you may still be affected.

“Many carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize AT&T’s, Verizon’s, and T-Mobile’s networks,” the FCC wrote.

Visit the FCC’s website for more information.