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3G network shutdown could impact everyday devices, services you use

PITTSBURGH — As networks look to fully phase out 3G, consumers should be prepared for impacts beyond their cellphone service.

“You’d be surprised how many things actually use those cellular data radios,” said Chuck Bartel, Vice President of Information Technology at Duquesne University.

“This technology is used everywhere,” said Dr. Yaser Jararweh, an assistant professor at the Pittsburgh-based school.

For example, consumers with older vehicles may find that certain technologies no longer work once 3G is entirely shutdown. For AT&T, that shutdown is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 22. Other providers are looking to entirely phase 3G out in the near future.

“For example, a lot of folks that maybe have OnStar or some level of service like that... in older vehicles, they were operating on that 3G network, and unless they’re able to do some kind of a software upgrade... they’re going to have to do some kind of hardware upgrade,” Bartel said.

Home alarm or security systems may also be impacted, along with medical devices like fall detectors.

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In some instances, consumers can expect the service or product provider to ensure the correct upgrades have occurred or will soon. Jararweh said to expect companies to be “proactive,” but in some instances, consumers may need to be, too.

“If they haven’t already been informed by the carrier, they may just want to reach out to that provider,” Bartel said. “For example, you can go to the OnStar website and do some searches based upon your vehicle, your VIN number, to find out if your vehicle is still eligible or needs to have some form of an upgrade.”

Similarly, folks may want to call their home alarm or security companies to see if they should expect an impact.

It may be inconvenient, but it’s something to get used to.

“This is just a continuation of technology marching on into better technologies,” Bartel said. “That’s the price of progress.”

Jararweh told Channel 11 he suspects it won’t be too long before 4G is phased out as well.