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3G Network Shutdowns Could Affect Medical Devices, Life Alert Systems

3G wireless networks are scheduled to finish shutting down as early as February 2022, affecting not only older cell phones, but also certain medical devices, alert systems, and security systems that use 3G network services. If not replaced or upgraded in time, these devices will no longer be able to call 911 or other emergency services.

Advocates have noted that seniors and low-income Americans using older cell phones and alert and alarm systems are most likely to be affected by the phase-out of 3G networks, but efforts to ensure continued coverage for our most vulnerable have been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed or prevented necessary in-home visits to provide system upgrades. However, the pandemic has simultaneously highlighted the need to stay connected as more people rely on telehealth and other virtual platforms to receive services safely and remotely.

LeadingAge NY members should contact their service providers regarding any alert or alarm systems as soon as possible to determine if an upgrade or replacement will be necessary to ensure continued functionality of these devices.

Members can also help protect seniors in their care by making residents and their families aware of the impending shutoffs, assisting them with identifying personal devices that may be impacted, and encouraging them to reach out to service providers regarding those devices immediately.

The following resources for older adults may be available during this transition:

  • Seniors and low-income families may be eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit to assist them with obtaining discounted, updated devices.
  • Your local Office for the Aging may also offer programs for device distribution.
  • Many libraries offer device-lending programs, which can help keep seniors connected.

For more details and tips on how to stay connected, please consult the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) consumer guide here.

Contact: Annalyse Komoroske Denio, akomoroskedenio@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8835