In the Race for 5G, Alarm and Security Services Get Stuck in the Middle

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In early 2019, AT&T announced it would phase out 3G wireless service in February 2022, meaning that devices designed to communicate using 3G technology would no longer have a connection after that date. Security systems companies were replacing the older gear when the pandemic lockdown began in March 2020. By early 2021, Covid-19 concerns had eased and people were more willing to let her workers into their homes. But then chip shortages hit the alarm industry, so replacement equipment became harder to come by. Covid and chip shortages have meant hassles and higher costs for businesses whose products and services depend on wireless technology, from emergency alert pendants and home medical devices to crash-prevention systems in cars and ankle bracelets that monitor felons. But the more critical concern is that if they cannot make equipment upgrades before the 3G sunset, some life safety and emergency alert services will stop working. In recent weeks, the Federal Communications Commission has received numerous filings expressing concern about the AT&T sunset plan, from businesses and from public interest advocates and groups representing rural communities and retirees. The FCC said it was “thoroughly investigating” the questions raised about AT&T’s sunset timetable, soliciting public comments and seeking further information from the carriers and others. A delay, AT&T says, would slow the nation’s move to 5G, a technology of the future. “The victims,” the company said, would be “tens of millions of ordinary customers.”

In Race for 5G, Alarm and Security Services Get Stuck in the Middle