This post was originally published on March 23, 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The 3G shutdown is already underway, with every major carrier in the United States planning to suspend 3G services by the end of 2022. In fact, AT&T has already shut down its 3G network entirely, and Verizon will follow by December 31, 2022.

Now is the time to get ahead of the 3G sunset if you haven’t already. If you’re like most Americans, your cell phone no longer runs on a 3G network anyway. And many carriers no longer activate devices on the 3G network.

But what about your security system? If you have a 3G alarm system, continue reading to learn what you can do to update your system and maintain your security service.

What is 3G and What is the Difference Between 3G, 4G and 5G?

Before we get into how the 3G sunset could affect your security system, here’s a quick rundown of the different networks available and how they evolved over time.

The “G” stands for generation. The newer the network, the more capacity for more devices to connect to that network. Introduced in 1998, 3G and is now considered a slower network compared to the current standard 5G. As more people get access to mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, as many as 24 billion devices are expected to need cellular network support by 2024. That’s where 5G comes in, offering peak capacity and latency.

Just like 2G, the 3G network has become outdated as more wireless customers demand greater bandwidth and faster speeds. Shutting down the older network will drastically increase data capacity and speed on 4G, 5G and LTE networks.

Are There 3G Alarm Systems?

Yes, some security systems run on cellular networks. 3G networks were the standard communication technology used in security panels starting in 2016. When landlines became obsolete, there was a shift to wireless security systems that use cellular technology to relay messages.

These systems were more reliable, convenient, and accessible than their landline counterparts. Cellular security systems also don’t have onsite wires, which can be tampered with by a burglar to render your security system useless.

What Does the 3G Sunset Mean for My Home Security System?

If your alarm system was installed with a 3G-compatible communicator, it will no longer work properly once carriers begin to sunset 3G networks—regardless of who your security provider is.

Although wireless carriers have published specific dates for 3G termination, this does not guarantee 3G services will be fully available until the sunset. It is common practice for carriers to reduce coverage during transition periods.

That’s why it’s imperative to act as soon as possible to avoid service disruptions or lapses in security coverage.

What Can I Do to Limit Disruptions to My 3G Alarm System?

If you believe that you have a 3G alarm system, the cellular communicator will need to be replaced to operate on the new networks. If your system was installed prior to 2018, chances are it is running on 3G. Systems that are not updated will not be able to send signals to the monitoring center during an emergency.

Your security provider should proactively reach out to ensure there is no lapse in service for your system. But if you don’t hear from them or want to get the ball rolling on updating your system, contact your provider and ask the following questions:

  • Will the 3G sunset impact my security system?
  • When are cellular carrier changes expected to roll out in my area?
  • What is your company’s timeline and plans for customer updates?
  • Can I update my system in advance, or do I need to wait for a tiered rollout?
  • Will I be charged a service fee to upgrade my system? If so, how much?
  • Do I need to purchase new equipment, or will it be provided free of charge?
  • How can I schedule a service call to update my system, if needed?

Your home security provider should be willing and able to answer all your questions about the impact on your system and should have a plan in place to prevent disruption. If you want more information about how Vector Security is handling the 3G Sunset, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to work with you on getting your system updated.