Next year millions of cell phones and electronic devices will stop working because of a technology upgrade. Massachusetts safety officials tell 7-Investigates they are so concerned they’re putting out a public alert. 7’s Hank Phillippi Ryan has the story.
Kennedy Duncan keeps up on the latest technology.
“I have a newer phone,” Kennedy said.
But she didn’t know about a high-tech change on the horizon.
Next year major mobile carriers are dumping their 3G network to change to a newer generation: the faster 5G.
“I had no idea,” Kennedy said.
Most people we spoke to didn’t know either.
“No, I wasn’t aware of this,” a woman told 7 News.
“It’s a shock to me,” a man told 7 News.
“I never heard this before,” another man told 7 News.
And when the change happens many older cell phones won’t be able to make or receive any texts or calls, including calls to 911.
“You will open that phone, and it won’t work. If you’re in an emergency of any sort, you might not be able to reach the people that you need to get to immediately,” Kerry Collins, the Undersecretary for Forensic Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
And it’s not just phones that could stop working.
It’s also tablets, smartwatches, medical devices, vehicle emergency alert systems, even your home security system.
“There’s a whole host of technology that uses 3G,” Kerry said.
We’ve learned the Massachusetts Probation department is in the process of phasing out hundreds of 3G GPS monitoring bracelets.
State agencies are trying to figure out what other devices may be impacted.
“We’re letting all of our partners know in public safety that they need to check their devices as well to make sure they’re going to work in January of 2022,” Kerry said.
The FCC says, “Some devices may only require a software update” but some people “may need to upgrade to a newer device.”
Mobile carriers are working to alert customers.
But safety officials say don’t wait to hear from someone.
Find out if your device is about to stop working and upgrade before there’s an emergency.
“When you see this, when you hear about this, contact your carrier, it is too important to wait, your safety is at risk,” Kerry said.
Different carriers will phase out 3G at different times. Some carriers are offering discounts to help people upgrade to newer phones.
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