Disconnected: AT&T Cuts 3G’s Cord

February 23rd, 2022 by Chris Collier

AT&T shut down its 3G network yesterday, signifying the beginning of the end for technology that launched when the BlackBerry was in vogue in 2002. With Verizon and T-Mobile planning similar phase-outs, what’s ahead for the film industry?

“We’re Sorry; You Have Reached a Number That Has Been Disconnected or is no Longer in Service.”

Zack Wirth, owner of Sun Stoppers Greeley.

“I don’t think it will affect my company since we have always been up on technology,” says Jacob Caudy, owner of h2o Window Tinting in Tarpon Springs, Fla. “We take full advantage of Tint Wiz and similar apps to keep our company running smoothly from anywhere.”

The shutdown will impact those using 3G Kindles, 3G flip phones, the iPhone 5 and older models, according to CNN Business. In-car crash notification and roadside assistance systems like OnStar will need updates and replacements, too. The plug-pull could also affect home and office security systems, per CyberGuy.com.

“Since we do graphics, we have to stay on top of all connectivity-related issues,” says Marcello Becchi, vice president of sales and marketing at Vetrilite in Coral Springs, Fla. “I would say that people in more rural communities could be affected. The unintended consequence could be that we have a new wave of people getting interested in knowing about connectivity and speed.”

Marcello Becchi is passionate about the design process.

Hattiesburg, Miss.’s, SPF Window Tinting Inc. doesn’t currently have operational systems that run on 3G. Vice president Tyner Sullivan says technological advancements could extend the company’s reach. “I think the expansion of these cellular networks and their capabilities offer many residents of Mississippi access to internet that was never available prior,” Sullivan says.

Charles Culp falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. A tint specialist at Sun Stoppers Greeley in Greeley, Colo., Culp says 3G’s retirement could affect consumers.

“With the economy the way it is, this could potentially impact customer flow,” Culp says. “It’s also possible that, as customers are forced to pay for system upgrades, it will impact the disposable income they may have used for other services such as tint.”

Pick-up Lines

“For nearly two years, we’ve proactively sent numerous communications via direct mail, bill messaging, emails and text messages to help customers transition to next-generation networks before 3G services end on February 22,” AT&T told CNN Business in a statement.

Tyner Sullivan says his company could benefit from 4G and 5G network expansion.

A small percentage of wireless customers use 3G networks. 99% of Verizon’s customers have already upgraded to 4G LTE or 5G, and less than 1% of AT&T’s mobile data traffic runs on 3G networks, according to CNN Business. AT&T hosts a webpage informing customers of the phase-out, detailing upgrade plans and devices no longer supported. Regardless, Culp says, “Awareness could be a concern as many may be impacted without being prepared.”

3G’s time has come and gone, but what about upcoming tech with industry implications? Becchi sees virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as remote display options for decorative films. In an increasingly digital age, Billy Aiton, owner of Pro-Tech Window Tinting in Scottsdale, Ariz., agrees.

“If more than one person has virtual reality, we could be in two different places,” says Aiton, whose company’s mix is 100% flat glass. “We could look at products in one place, the building in another and go over things with the designer at the same time.”

Click here for more information on AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile’s 3G network phase-outs.

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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