Attention: 9-1-1 unavailable for 3G network/cell phones in 2022
Last updated 3/26/2022 at 10:37am
From North County Fire Protection District
If your mobile phone is more than a few years old, you may need to upgrade your device before your mobile provider shuts down its 3G network, to avoid losing service. For more information on your mobile providers' plans for 3G retirement and how you can prepare, contact your provider directly.
What is happening?
Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks, which rely on older technology, to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts, including calls to 911, or use data services. This will affect 3G mobile phones and certain older 4G mobile phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE or HD Voice).
When is it happening?
As early as Jan. 1, though plans and timing to phase out 3G services will vary by company and may change. Consult your mobile provider's website for the most up-to-date information.
● AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
● Verizon announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31.
● T-Mobile announced that it will finish shutting down Sprint's 3G CDMA network by March 31.
If your mobile carrier is not listed here, you may still be affected. Many carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers utilize AT&T's, Verizon's, and T-Mobile's networks.
What do you need to do?
Contact your mobile provider or consult your provider's website for more information about their 3G retirement plan and whether your phone, or other connected device, may be affected. It is important to plan now so that you don't lose connectivity, including the ability to call 911.
What happens when you call 9-1-1?
When you call on a landline phone or a cellular phone, the call is answered by the primary Public Safety Answering Point. After you have stated the nature of the emergency or the reason for dialing 911, the primary PSAP will then transfer your call to the appropriate agency for Police, Fire or Medical. Please don’t hang up but remain on the phone.
9-1-1 needs to know where to go
When you call 9-1-1, you will be asked the location of the emergency you are reporting. The dispatcher may not automatically know your location and will ask you to confirm it. Be prepared to give as much detail on your location as possible. Providing an accurate address is critically important, especially when making a cell phone 9-1-1 call.
If you call 911 from a landline phone, the registered address and phone number is automatically shown on our screen. However, it is still necessary for the dispatcher to verify the address because sometimes the phone company’s database has not been updated to the correct address or sometimes an individual calls 911 for an emergency occurring at a different location.
If you call 911 from a cellular phone, it does not show your exact location on the dispatcher’s computer screen but shows the general vicinity of where you are calling from via GPS or triangulation.
Call 9-1-1 and remain calm, be prepared
Try to stay calm, answer the questions and follow all instructions. Professional dispatchers are trained to get information from you. Listen carefully and answer as concisely as possible.
Dispatchers will ask many questions, please don’t hang up
Dispatchers are highly trained to evaluate every situation and inform the police or first responders for them to be well-prepared when they arrive. They can also give you instructions that can help save a life, even before the emergency help arrives. Please don’t hang up.
9-1-1 is for emergencies?
9-1-1 is for emergencies, not information. Citizens should call 911 for any emergency related matter even if it does not appear to be life-threatening. It is recommended you call 911 and speak to a dispatcher even if you’re not sure if the situation is a true emergency. Dispatchers are here to help you! Remember, it is advised that you do not call 911 if others around you have already called and spoken with a dispatcher. When multiple calls for the same emergency come in, it backs up the system and can delay the response for other emergencies.
● If you have a power outage, call SDG&E, not 9-1-1.
● During a natural disaster, do not call 9-1-1 to ask questions about what to do or where to go.
Tune to your local news or go online to https://ReadySanDiego.org.
● 2-1-1 is San Diego’s number for health and disaster services.
What if I am put on hold?
Calls are answered in the order they are received so if you hang up and call back, your call will go to the end of the queue which can result in a slower response.
9-1-1 dispatchers receive instant notification any time a caller is holding and will do everything they can to get to your call as quickly as possible.
What if I accidentally call 9-1-1? Will I get in trouble?
If you misdial 9-1-1, don’t hang up! Instead, stay on the line and tell the dispatcher you misdialed; otherwise, they will have to call you back. If they can’t reach you, a police officer may be sent to your location to be sure you are OK. This ties up valuable resources from true emergencies.
Should I just go to the fire station?
The first and most important reason you should never do this is because the firefighters and paramedics may be away tending to a different emergency. Second, by personally transporting your emergency of any kind, you increase the chances of causing a separate emergency. The more you know about what to expect when you call 9-1-1, the faster help can get there. Help is already being sent. Stay calm, listen carefully, give the information and follow instructions
Everyone should know the numbers. Train your entire family. Even a very young child can learn to recognize an emergency and know to call 9-1-1.