Medical, Home Alarm Industries Warn Of Major Outages As AT&T Shuts Down 3G Network
from the alarm-o-pocalypse dept
It was only 2009 that AT&T heralded its cutting edge 3G network as it unveiled the launch of the iPhone (which subsequently crashed AT&T’s cutting edge 3G network). Fast forward a little more than a decade and AT&T is preparing to shut that 3G network down, largely so it can repurpose the spectrum it utilizes for fifth-generation (5G) wireless deployments. While the number of actual wireless phone users still using this network is minimal, the network is still being heavily used as a connectivity option for some older medical devices and home alarm systems.
As such, the home security industry is urging regulators to delay the shutdown to give them some more time to migrate home security users on to other networks:
“The Alarm Industry Communications Committee said in a filing posted Friday by the FCC that more time is needed to work out details. A delay of at least 60 to 70 days could help some customers who have relied on AT&T?s 3G network, although arrangements remain to be negotiated, the group said.
?It would be tragic and illogical for the tens of millions of citizens being protected by 3G alarm radios and other devices to be put at risk of death or serious injury, when the commission was able to broker a possible solution but inadequate time exists to implement that solution,? the group said.
If you recall, part of the T-Mobile Sprint merger conditions involved trying to make a viable fourth wireless carrier out of Dish Network (that’s generally not going all that well). T-Mobile’s ongoing feud with Dish has resulted in T-Mobile keeping its 3G network alive a bit longer than AT&T. So the alarm industry is asking both the FCC and AT&T for a little more time, as well as some help migrating existing home security gear temporarily on to T-Mobile’s 3G network so things don’t fall apart when AT&T shuts down its 3G network (currently scheduled for February 22).
Nothing more comforting than a hidden, systemic failure of the communications elements of multiple alarm systems that does not truly reveal itself until the alarms fail in a moment of cascading crisis https://t.co/2pxuvmdhLR
— Michael Weinberg (@mweinberg2D) February 18, 2022
AT&T gave companies whose technology still use 3G three full years to migrate to alternative solutions. And it’s not entirely clear how many companies, services, and industries will be impacted by the shut down. But there’s an awful lot of different companies and technologies that still use 3G for internet connectivity, including a lot of fairly important medical alert systems. Nobody seems to actually know how prepared we truly are, so experts suggest the problems could range anywhere from mildly annoying to significantly disruptive:
So how bad could #Alarmageddon be? Hard to say. Lots of personal medical alerts ("Help, I've fallen and can't get up!"), DUI locks on cars, ankle bracelets for home confinement, school bus GPS system. So potentially pretty severe. (see Docket No. 21-304) /20
— (((haroldfeld))) (@haroldfeld) February 18, 2022
Again, this is all something that could have been avoided if we placed a little less priority on freaking out about various superficial issues and a put a little more attention on nuanced, boring policy issues that actually matter.