Article Archive
May/June 2022

Technology: How to Prepare for the 3G Shutoff
By Chris Holbert
Today’s Geriatric Medicine
Vol. 15 No. 3 P. 20

By the end of 2022, 3G networks will be shut off by mobile carriers. While this may seem like a great technological advancement, millions of Americans age 65 and older rely on these 3G networks to power and connect their medical devices to help in case of an emergency. For some, an upgrade or replacement may be difficult, leaving them disconnected from emergency services. The pandemic has created a unique situation when it comes to medical help for older adults, increasing the need for these devices with family members unable to visit.

Mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) devices are a variety of portable pushbutton devices that allow older adults to signal for medical attention or help wherever they are. They come in a wide variety of styles from pendants to pocket accessories. mPERS devices have one button that can be pressed in the event of an emergency. But now, with the 3G shutoff rolling out, the transition to 5G is posing a threat to these devices.

The removal of 2G and 3G services will make more room for advanced network services (4G and 5G). The upgrade to these newer networks will create a lower latency, increased security, and faster download speeds, but creates a problem for older Americans who rely on 2G and 3G networks for their mPERS devices. When these networks shut down, many mPERS devices that utilize the older network services will too.

All major mobile providers/carriers plan to shut off 3G by the end of 2022. AT&T already finished shutting down its 3G networks in February, Verizon will finish shutting down its by December 31, 2022, and T-Mobile will finish shutting down its networks, and Sprint’s will shut down by July 1, 2022. With the shutoff underway, many older adults will be left without help.

This 2G and 3G shutoff affecting mPERS devices should prompt older Americans, many of whom struggle with new technologies, to take extra steps to ensure they aren’t kept in the dark and without emergency communication. Providers can advise their patients to take the following steps.

Upgrade mPERS Devices
Everyone using mPERS devices needs to immediately check whether theirs will become unusable once upgrades have finished. By contacting the device manufacturer or the company providing services for the device, they can find out whether it operates on a 2G or 3G network. If so, upgrading their devices is important. They can discuss options with service providers, where they’re likely able to turn in old devices for 4G models.

Stay Aware
Technology is constantly changing and updating to make way for faster speeds and more convenience. But many older Americans aren’t aware of these upgrades until they affect them. By staying aware of the latest technology and what changes will be coming to older devices, they can be ahead of the game and avoid finding themselves in situations such as this where they scramble last minute to stay connected.

Take Classes
The best way for patients to stay up to date is to schedule technology classes that can teach them to utilize the newest products and services. For example, Apple offers courses and training on its devices and answers questions to help users learn to more effectively use new technology. This can even be as simple as asking a child or grandchild for tutoring on technology.

— Chris Holbert is CEO of SecuraTrac ( He’s been a CEO, chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO) for privately held and publicly traded companies. Prior to starting SecuraTrac in 2008, Holbert was COO and CIO of LaunchPad Communications; was CIO for North American Scientific, Inc; and held senior consulting positions for Ernst & Young, LLP and American Management Systems, Inc.