The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) is sounding the alarms (pun intended) on the sunset of AT&T’s 3G network. The committee recently filed to ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene and force AT&T to delay the shutdown of its 3G network. AT&T’s roaming bridge provided by T-Mobile is not enough for the AICC to maintain systems like fire alarms, security systems, personal medical alert devices, and other devices. According to the AICC, those systems have not yet migrated to newer systems and need more time.
The newest plea from the AICC to the FCC came shortly after AT&T stated that it’s using “roaming options to bridge the IoT transition.” The AICC was notified of the FCC’s agreement to allow AT&T to utilize T-Mobile roaming options as a bridge, but apparently, it’s not enough. There’s a great sense of urgency from the AICC because AT&T’s 3G Network is set to be decommissioned on February 22nd, 2022.
“Members of the AICC have rapidly explored the possible use of this roaming agreement as an interim solution to allow alarm companies an additional four months in which to replace certain existing 3G alarm radios with 4G devices,” AICC told the FCC in its filing. “With only five days left before AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network, there is simply not enough time for such arrangements to be made, and the actual roaming logistics implemented.”
Because of this, the AICC is asking for an extension to allow things to play out. “AICC respectfully requests that the FCC issue an Order directing AT&T to delay decommissioning its 3G network and services until there has been time for affected parties to take advantage of the roaming option that was just announced two days ago,” the organization wrote. “Such extension should be for at least 60 to 70 days, at which time the Commission can determine if any further extension is needed.”
What’s AT&T’s messaging in all of this?
AT&T seems relatively unbothered and plans to move forward with shutting down its 3G network. AT&T recently told FierceWireless that it had no further comment on the matter, and that the company was not going to extend its 3G network past February 22nd, and that the FCC does not have the authority to stop it. AT&T, in the past, has stated that keeping its 3G network up would hurt its 5G rollout.
“We absolutely need the extension of the sunset,” AICC spokesman John Brady told Fierce on Friday. “I’ll work as hard as I can, but I’m not going to get it done in four days.”
The sunset isn’t new information, but the AICC is still scrambling to find a solution before customers of the affected systems experience issues. AICC officials spoke with AT&T on February 15th when the company doubled down on its stance for no extensions but did offer the roaming option from T-Mobile to bridge the gap. Brady said there’s usually a master agreement to follow, but AT&T was not agreeable.
“We suggested that it would be impossible to get 13,000 alarm companies to be able to negotiate individually with AT&T before next Tuesday” and that if indeed roaming was a viable alternative, then “we needed to understand more about it from a technological point of view,” he said.
“It did allow us a little time to find out that quite frankly, the T-Mobile offering is fake news,” he said. “It is not a viable option that will be ready by next Tuesday. The majority of the industry is not even on the right platform … to allow for roaming,” he said. “There certainly are some,” but AICC doesn’t know how many.
Brady also said that it appears that AT&T is making the T-Mobile option easily accessible when it’s not. He talked to an AT&T rep for Connect America to discuss why they couldn’t roam onto the T-Mobile network and “They were very clear with their technical people that we were not on the right platform.” Brady also added some well-known aggregators checked and also couldn’t roam.
In the AICC’s filing, the committee called out that some 3G alarm radios aren’t adaptable for roaming, particularly emergency response units, and are widely used by senior citizens. The solution AT&T has proposed won’t help 3G-based alarm customers where there isn’t T-Mobile 3G coverage.
On a phone call with the AICC and its commissioners, Brady said, “Everyone’s got the same impression that ‘oh, this is taken care of, don’t worry about it.’ And it’s so far from not being taken care of, and there’s all still the same jeopardy that we’ve been talking about,” he continued, “Our feeling is the FCC has a right to request an extension of the sunset.”
The AICC is working furiously until the last second to get an extension on AT&T’s 3G network sunset.