Ahead of the shutdown of its 3G network early next year, AT&T has been prompting customers who own devices that are set to become obsolete to get new phones. It's gone so far as to offer a free if cheap replacement for those who request one. However, some subscribers who have yet to take action of any sort on this matter are receiving devices anyway and they're not the phones we were told to expect.
Last month, we asked Amazon what was going to happen when AT&T's planned 3G shutdown in 2022 lands — an important question, as the company's Whispernet-branded 3G connectivity for many Kindle devices would be affected, since it piggybacks on AT&T's network. In some cases, as with particularly old Kindles missing Wi-Fi, this shutdown would mean they'd stop working entirely. While the company wouldn't answer our questions at the time, now it's emailing affected device owners explaining they'll get a $50-70 discount towards a new Kindle and $15-25 in eBook credit, and Amazon tells us that Kindle 1st gen owners are outright getting a free Kindle Oasis.
AT&T's plans to shut down its 3G network next year will have a wider impact on devices than just your uncle's dated flip phone. Although AT&T is handing out free smartphones to affected subscribers, there's one other big category of gadgets that will be affected by the shutdown, and so far, none of the companies involved have said a word about what they're going to do. See, Amazon's 3G Kindles for most of the last decade use AT&T's network for their Whispernet data connections. So, what's going to happen to all the 3G-connected Kindles out there when they don't have data anymore?
AT&T is shutting down its 3G network next February and is prepared to give its customers a new phone for free lest their current one becomes useless —that is, they can't place calls over LTE. Just don't expect the carrier to go to great costs for your replacement.
Last year, AT&T sent out an email to its customers warning that their phones would soon lose support on its network, requiring an upgrade to a new device. Things weren't quite as drastic as the email read on paper, but it still managed to cause a sense of panic and urgency among subscribers. As we approach the halfway mark for the year, it's worth making sure your phone won't be affected by AT&T's upcoming changes to its network.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Amid an economy-crushing pandemic, AT&T decided that now was a good time to send a scaremongering email to many of its customers, claiming that their phone "is not compatible with the new network and you need to replace it to continue receiving service." The email conveniently omits that this message is regarding a change that won't take place until February 2022, providing only a link that later calls out this change linked to the decommissioning of AT&T's legacy 3G network.