As companies continue to develop and deploy 5th Generation wireless technologies, many are repurposing legacy spectrum to accommodate new bandwidth demands. AT&T announced that in order to continue deploying its 5G network, it would need to repurpose the spectrum it currently utilizes for 3G wireless services. The company intends to shutter its 3G network by February, 2022, meaning that devices utilizing this technology will be disconnected from service.

Consequently, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (“AICC”) filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) seeking FCC intervention to delay AT&T’s proposed 3G network shutdown until December 31, 2022. The additional time would allow AICC members more time to upgrade existing 3G reliant home security devices.

Next Century Cities (“NCC”) submitted reply comments highlighting the FCC’s responsibility to mediate. Many elderly and low-income communities rely on flip phones and other low cost communications options that often still require 3G to remain connected. Additionally, municipalities rely on SMS and telephone based services to distribute emergency relief information when it becomes necessary. Accelerated 3G service shutdowns could inadvertently disconnect residents that do not have the means or knowledge to upgrade their communications devices before they are cut off, a possibility with serious consequences.

In the past, the FCC has stepped in to oversee technology transitions. Notably, it has also mandated the continued operation of legacy services when contuation was in the public interest. Here, the FCC should disallow actions that could cause any households to potentially become disconnected from essential service without adequate notice.

Read the September 14th FCC filing here.