AT&T Guides Customers’ Transition from 3G, Unlocking 5G Benefits

Joan Marsh
February 15, 2022
AT&T Policy Statements, Broadband Access and Affordability

AT&T Guides Customers’ Transition from 3G, Unlocking 5G Benefits

Today, less than 1 percent of our mobile data traffic runs on our 3G network. This incredibly low 3G usage rate demonstrates the strong progress we’ve made working with customers to ensure the most seamless transition to newer and faster networks.

Three years ago, in February 2019, we publicly announced a plan to end service on our 3G wireless network in early 2022. Like other wireless providers, we periodically “refarm” or repurpose spectrum from an outdated generation of wireless technology to a new, more efficient one. We’ve been through these technology evolutions before with analog and other legacy technologies.

This time, sunsetting 3G will free-up and allow us to reallocate spectrum to newer technologies, helping unlock the ultimate benefits of the 5G experience—ultra-fast speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity—to better serve consumers and businesses. This evolution away from 3G is critical to bring more and better 5G coverage to Americans across the country.

How we got here

With guidance from the FCC, we have worked to carefully transition consumers and businesses from 3G to newer and faster networks. Three years ago, when we announced the 3G sunset, we gave notice to our business customers that then relied on 3G devices. In many cases, we even gave notice in contracts years before that. And most of those companies have used this time effectively to migrate their devices. For example, ADT, one of the largest alarm companies, has publicly said it expects to have all its 3G devices upgraded before the February 22 sunset date.[1] Today, relatively few 3G-dependent devices remain on our network.

Over the past three years, we’ve also worked diligently with consumers and businesses to make this transition easier. We’ve taken a number of steps to ensure they stay connected, such as:

  • Starting in February 2019, we notified customers of the future 3G sunset and the need for device upgrades and regularly (in some cases monthly) repeated that notice.
  • We offered customers free and discounted phones, some of which will continue after 3G sunset, ultimately shipping about 2 million replacement phones.
  • We created a dedicated webpage to provide customers information on how to migrate their devices.
  • We certified well over 100 devices for use on AT&T’s 4G/5G network, increasing the options for customers to bring their own device.
  • We provided over $100 million in incentives for businesses to replace their devices.
  • We collaborated with the alarm industry to build a simple, plug-in, self-install solution to automatically connect 3G alarm service devices to the LTE network.
  • We helped IoT customers obtain replacement devices and device certification and streamline device procurement, activation, and configuration.
  • We connected wholesale partners to device/chip set solutions.
  • At the FCC’s urging, we are using roaming options to bridge the IoT transition.

What’s next

No network transition is easy. We’ve undertaken extensive efforts to minimize the inconvenience for our customers and allow as seamless a transition as is possible.  We will continue to remain focused on assisting customers through and past the 3G sunset date. We appreciate the FCC’s continued guidance and look forward to continuing the important work to bring higher speed connectivity to more Americans.

More details on our network transition are available here.


[1] ADT 3Q2021 Earnings Call Transcript, S&P Global Intelligence, at 4 (Nov. 9, 2021) (statement of CEO James D. DeVries).