Even if your phone does everything right, the manufacturer may have decided that components without FCC approval will shutdown rather than connect to American networks. It solves all their licensing, approval, and market segmentation problems without requiring special hardware.
Since this got raised (probably by a spammer), I thought I’d note that it’s past the date AT&T said they would be sunsetting 3G. I’m curious if it has happened now, and how the OP is getting along.
I kept my beloved BlackBerry Key2, ditched AT&T a few months ago, and went with T-Mobile. Even saved about $15/month 'cause T-Mobile has an old people’s cell phone rate of $50, unlimited everything. I guess they figure we don’t have many friends, don’t use the phone for text or email, and will be dead soon anyway.
I don’t remember exactly what the chronology of this was… but when I signed up with AT&T internet, I think I already had AT&T cell phone service (or maybe it was the other way around). In any case, at the AT&T store, I said to the sales rep, “I guess I should bundle them together, right?” And she said, “I wouldn’t.” So I didn’t. That made the divorce very simple. I still have AT&T internet (but no cable, just Roku).
Northern California here, within two hours drive of S. F. Bay Area. I have an AT&T 3G pre-paid mobile phone (what they used to call a “Go-Phone”) that I’ve had for about 10 years now. They have announced a drop-dead date of February 22. But mine still works.
I read somewhere (perhaps right on this Board) that it’s not just one switch in some central office that they will pull and their 3G shuts down nationwide. It happens separately region by region, and not all at once. I think this means that they are putting their efforts on upgrading the larger populated areas first, and will get on to upgrading us little farm towns later on.
ETA: From the OP:
I haven’t seen or heard anything at all about them sending me a new free cell phone! Where do I apply?
I don’t think people with the pre-paid go-phones got that deal. That’s what I had, too. And I had it for about 10 years. I used it as an emergency phone I carried in my pocket all the time. Costs me $12 a month. As the Feb. 22 deadline approached, I looked on the website for another phone. They had a cheap flip-phone but would not let me purchase it online. It said I had to purchase it in a store. I checked my local AT&T store and they did not have the phone. I’m sure the point of that was to make me consider a more expensive phone. My point was to have a cheap small phone so I had no interest in their other offerings.
I deleted my auto-pay information. They sent me a few texts when it was renewal time and that was after the deadline so I guess it would still be working now if I had paid. It wasn’t a big deal to drop it since it wasn’t my real phone. But I don’t particularly like having to carry my heavier cell phone around all the time.
@aurora_maire , sounds like your usage is similar to mine. I have this un-smart mobile phone almost solely to be my emergency phone while I’m on the road. I take it with me whenever I leave home. I hardly ever use it.
My deal was some-number-of-minutes for 90 days, renewable for $25 every 90 days, so I was paying about the same as you. If I renew before it expires, any left-over time carries forward. Since I hardly ever use it, I’ve accumulated lots of time over the last ten years. The account is shown in accumulated dollars rather than minutes. I have about $600+ dollars in this account by now.
A catch came up: When I tried to re-up a few years ago, I got a message that accumulating more than $600-some dollars was not allowed. So I called their customer support number for advice.
The CSR spoke with a moderate accent, but entirely intelligible, and she seemed totally knowledgeable and helpful. She set me up with a full-year renewal for $25.
The following year and the year after that, they gave me full-year renewals at no charge !! But that doesn’t mean I’m spending down my accumulated $600+ much, since I still hardly ever use this phone.
It has been on my do-queue for several months to look into getting a phone upgrade. I am hoping this can all be done on the same account so I get to keep the money in the account. I hope I can also keep the same phone number.
Your post has some details that look like they may be useful to me. I am thinking of getting another not-smart phone to replace this one. I don’t need a smarter-than-me phone. Maybe one can buy one by calling their knowledgeable CSR who speaks passable English?
If you go to your account at AT&T, there will be a link for “upgrade my device”. This will take you to all the phones they offer pre-paid customers. It’s not a big selection but it has cheap to expensive phones. When you order one, you will get instructions on how to transfer it to your account so you won’t lose your phone number or your money.
@aurora_maire Thank you for this advice. I don’t think I ever set up an on-line account with them – I have never had any need to. (I do have an on-line account with AT&T for my landline phone and internet, but that’s an altogether separate account.) So I’ll need to look into this.
Yes, it is a separate website. I also have AT&T for my internet/TV. This is the link I used for the pre-paid account.
@aurora_maire Thank you again. I am going to bookmark that.
Here’s a question for anyone who might know: Should I be looking into upgrading to 4G or 5G? I think I’ve read that 5G isn’t all that widely available yet, as it is still being rolled out in various regions. Is 4G much more widely available?
Do current models of phones operate with both 4G and 5G, whichever type of tower they connect to? If I get a 4G phone, will I just have to upgrade it again in a few years? If I get a 5G phone, it might not work in as many areas for a while, including in possibly in my neck of the wilderness.
One thing I didn’t realize the first time this thread went around is all of the other things that relied on 3G network. GM vehicles older that 2014 (?) no longer can use the OnStar features in that vehicle. Near as I can tell, if you had an active OnStar acct, then you may have been upgraded, definitely true for some of the newer vehicles; however, if you had an older vehicle, it won’t work anymore.
If you just acquired a new-to-you car that didn’t have OnStar activated, I’m not sure you can activate it now that the switch off has occurred. Of course, OnStar, in their infinite brilliant wisdom makes you have an acct & enter your acct info to get more information. D’Oh!
It seems that some manufacturers were using 3G tech (for things like remote un/lock) as recently as last year but many more cars still new enough to be on loan or initial lease; despite knowing it would be sunsetted in the near future; it’s not just old beaters that are being impacted.
At some point, it only makes sense that 4G & later on 5G will get shut off as we move to 6, 7, & 8G phones in the upcoming years so the brand new car you might buy in the future, whether next week, next year of a few years down the road would have the same issue of communication failures at some point in the future, well before you might be ready to get rid of it. IOW, this will happen again, & as cars get more connected, it will only be more impactful.
Drive article including a list (of some) of the affected vehicles
My town had parking meters that relied on 2G service. Caused all kinds of hell when that was shut down, because the meters ran their batteries dead trying to find service, and went entirely non-functional. That was a fun time.
My GM vehicle’s OnStar uses an analog cell radio, and I don’t think it’s worked since 2008 or something. A pretty short lifetime, considering the car is from 2000.
Unfortunately I waited too long to rip it out. Lots of forum posts at the time about people pulling OnStar out of the dash, and replacing it with the cubby that came on non-OnStar vehicles. Those parts don’t seem to be available anymore, so I’ll forever have a green light happily offering something it can never provide. The upside is there are some big buttons to play with that don’t do anything except make the green light flash.
4G is ancient in technology years. Yes, it is everywhere that people live in something more sturdy than a yurt.
But how much longer will 4G be around before they pull the 4G plug? IIRC I read somewhere that it is expected to be around for a good many years to come, whatever that means. And as you say, it’s everywhere (quite possibly yurts included).
So I’m wondering if I should be looking to upgrade to a 4G phone, which is everywhere and supposedly will be for a while? Or a 5G phone that isn’t everywhere yet but golly gee! it’s the latest whiz-bang we all just must have!
Do any current mobile phones support both? Is that a common thing?
Get the best phone for you that works now. I know lots of people in this thread like to keep their phones for 10 years, but sometimes with technology you just have to accept that upgrades are necessary.
Get the best phone now, and if it has 5G or not, don’t worry about it. 4G is going to be around for a long time, and when the move to 5G requires a new phone, the 5G radios will be cheaper and more efficient than what is available today. Particularly if you’re looking at extreme budget phones. The extra cost to go from a basic 4G phone today to a 5G phone today is probably better spent buying a 5G phone tomorrow.
If you’re looking at more expensive phones that happen to have 5G, that’s fine, too, but it certainly shouldn’t be the deciding factor unless the other features and price are equal.
Also, the big feature of 5G (to the end user) is increased data speed. If you’re getting a phone that can’t fully utilized 5G speed because of its slow processor or because it’s not a smart phone, then 5G isn’t going to matter (until 4G goes away many years from now).
Every 5G phone is going to be backwards compatable with 4G. But getting a 5G phone is in conflict with your desire to have a dumphone because I’m not sure if there are or ever will be anyone who bothers to make one with 5G.
@echoreply , thank you helping me to think some of those thoughts. These are the kinds of considerations I need to figure out.
ETA: You too, @Darren_Garrison .
A poignant analogy for the aging process…
Figured I’d share this link for those who are frustrated with features they don’t want and won’t use on a newer phone -
(warning there -IS- one 3g phone on the list, so I’d avoid it, but most are 4g)
The top pick is $44 on Amazon, which is pretty darn good for a budget phone with no carrier incentives.
WARNING WARNING WARNING - I said this upthread, but when I did this as a job, it was always frustrating - not all carriers support the same bands (frequencies) on 3g/4g/LTE/5g - so check with your carrier if you intend to use any of these as BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone).