AT&T notifies customers that they will lose service if they don't buy a new phone

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,449   +562
Staff member
Facepalm: What would you do if your mobile service provider told you that you had to upgrade your phone or else you will lose service? That's the question some AT&T users are facing right now. The company has sent out an ill-advised reminder that it is ending 3G support but neglected to give the email any context.

According to AT&T's support forum, some customers have received emails stating that they "need" to buy a new phone, or they will lose service. That paraphrase might sound ludicrously exaggerated, but as Android Police screenshots point out, it's not.

Some took it to be an ultimatum. At least one user on the AT&T support forum thought the email was a scam and was seeking answers. Although the company has not responded in any official capacity, visiting links included in the email reveals that it is nothing more than a poorly worded and ill-timed reminder that the carrier will be dropping support for 3G in 2022, which it announced in February 2019.

The urgency implied in the email is unwarranted, especially considering many customers are probably suffering economic hardships right now due to the coronavirus. The last thing that most people want to hear right about now is, "You need to get a new phone, or we will cut your service." The fact that the email came with no stated context made the matter even worse.

If you received one of these notifications from AT&T, here's the TL;DR. You do not have to worry about upgrading your phone until February 2022 at the very latest. As long as you phone supports 4G LTE and HD Voice, you won't need a new phone. Your device does not have to be a 5G phone.

That means that iPhone users don't need to worry about it at all unless their phone is older than an iPhone 6. it's a little more complicated for Android phones since there is such a wide variety of devices out in the wild. If you are unsure if your phone supports HD Voice over 4G LTE, take a peek at AT&T's list of compatible devices.

In the meantime, I'm betting that AT&T quickly issues an apology for firmly planting its foot in its mouth. The proverbial crow eating cannot come soon enough either. The carrier has an earnings conference call coming up this week on Thursday, and the negative press is undoubtedly not going to sit well with investors.

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bviktor

Posts: 177   +351
Apology for... What? Everyone's shutting down 3G because it's a completely unnecessary spectrum hog. Then they can reallocate those precious spectrums to 4G. Many of those phones listed are like 5 years old and If you get them used it's probably cheaper than your monthly bill lol. And there's still 2 years left. I mean who the hell can't afford a 7 years old phone yet can afford to make phone calls?
 

brucek

Posts: 429   +491
The letter shown appears to reference a specific 3G only mobile device. It is not a mass communication to all AT&T customers, it is a letter to those customers who still have (and maybe even filtered for still using) a device that will be cut off in the future.

While I agree the letter is not worded the way that would be most useful to me (a tech enthusiast), I also understand this letter is not written for someone like me in mind. We can quibble over how much advance notice AT&T should give its users but if there are say 1 million affected devices it is probably not in anyone's interest for AT&T to try to replace them all in the last one week.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,221   +5,616
Leave it to AT&T to do anything to advance their profit line. How about they offer those few customers a trade in with 50% credit toward a new phone? Of course if they do those phones will all be the $1,500 or greater line ......
 

MaxSmarties

Posts: 292   +139
The email is (purposely?) deceiving, but the move is not. 3G support nowadays is a waste of resources and even very cheap phones have 4G LTE capability.
 
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bviktor

Posts: 177   +351
The letter shown appears to reference a specific 3G only mobile device. It is not a mass communication to all AT&T customers, it is a letter to those customers who still have (and maybe even filtered for still using) a device that will be cut off in the future.

While I agree the letter is not worded the way that would be most useful to me (a tech enthusiast), I also understand this letter is not written for someone like me in mind. We can quibble over how much advance notice AT&T should give its users but if there are say 1 million affected devices it is probably not in anyone's interest for AT&T to try to replace them all in the last one week.
Yeah, all they need to do is throw together a nice infographic to explain it to the less tech-savvy and all is well.
 

joseph mcfadden

Posts: 9   +2
You people complaining about this are straight up ignorant! read the **** article! 3G - 3G!!! get with the times. it costs a huge .... sorry, WASTES a huge amount of money to keep this antiquated crap going. get a new device and get with the times or get left behind. its progress people.

then everyone complains that AT&T doesn't have the latest and greatest technology, that there aren't enough options, that they don't come out with anything new - well, they are wasting money keeping this networks up and running what do you want? but yet you dont want to pay "that much" for your services either do you?

this is stupid click bait. stop posting this garbage techspot, it feeds stupid people.
 

Laurie McKinlay

Posts: 8   +6
All you people saying
You people complaining about this are straight up ignorant! read the **** article! 3G - 3G!!! get with the times. it costs a huge .... sorry, WASTES a huge amount of money to keep this antiquated crap going. get a new device and get with the times or get left behind. its progress people.

then everyone complains that AT&T doesn't have the latest and greatest technology, that there aren't enough options, that they don't come out with anything new - well, they are wasting money keeping this networks up and running what do you want? but yet you dont want to pay "that much" for your services either do you?

this is stupid click bait. stop posting this garbage techspot, it feeds stupid people.
Is that a joke? I suppose you couldn't give a crap about the mountains of e-waste that get exported to third world countries every year. Yeah, lets just make millions of phones completely unable to function because... progress?

Attitudes like yours are part of the reason the planet is in such a bad state. You couldn't give a damn about the environmental impact of throwing away millions of phones, not to mention making the billions of accessories for sale completely obsolete and ready for landfill. "Get with the times"? No - YOU get with the times. We can't afford any more of this stupid BS any longer.
 
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BobHome

Posts: 72   +28
Apology for... What? Everyone's shutting down 3G because it's a completely unnecessary spectrum hog. Then they can reallocate those precious spectrums to 4G. Many of those phones listed are like 5 years old and If you get them used it's probably cheaper than your monthly bill lol. And there's still 2 years left. I mean who the hell can't afford a 7 years old phone yet can afford to make phone calls?
My 10 year old Breeze II is still working just fine. I charge it every 2-3 weeks (I don't make a lot of calls or texts). I like that it isn't Android or iOS and doesn't really run apps (except the few it came with that I never use) so it is pretty safe from viruses, etc. I'll keep it until I can't use it, anymore. Then, probably switch companies.

BUT, the Learn More says, "phasing out our 3G network by February 2022."
This is the scare tactic I don't like. "Phasing out" indicates some area will get shut down first, before Feb 2022, and some last.
Which area am I in? They won't say. GIVE US A ROADMAP!
 

Ben Myers

Posts: 97   +36
This seems like another excuse for people to get mad at something on the internet. Sure it's not worded the best, but what marketing emails are?
Marketing emails written by smart, thoughtful and sensible marketeers can be worded well. Some are, but AT&T apparently doesn't have any of those types. Or maybe they handed off email writing to an intern with no review of the message? Maybe a Verizon double-agent got a job in AT&T marketing.

Astoundingly callous and dumb email!
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 470   +320
TechSpot Elite
Ok I just did some homework on this. How many here knew that there are still 47 million people on 3g? I sure as hell didn't. I wouldn't have thought anywhere near that. And at least they have until 2022. Verizon announced last year that 3g was getting shut down at the end of 2020.