U.S. mobile carriers discontinuation of 3G/HSPA network service
Starting in February 2022, U.S. carriers will be phasing out their 3G/HSPA wireless network service in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). This discontinuation of service will impact Canadian mobile wireless subscribers who are travelling in the U.S. and are using a mobile device that does not support 4G LTE data and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming.
This FAQ is provided for general information purposes only and is current only as of the published/updated date indicated below. For specific questions about how the U.S. 3G network service discontinuation may impact you please check your service providers support web pages or contact you service provider directly.
What is a 3G wireless network?
3G/HSPA refers to a third generation of wireless access standards that allows mobile devices to connect to the internet and to place and receive voice calls. 3G was introduced in the early 2000s and has been followed by 4G LTE and, most recently, by the newest generation of wireless standards, 5G.
When will the U.S. carriers be discontinuing their 3G network services in the U.S.?
AT&T has announced that its 3G/HSPA network service will be discontinued by February 2022.
T-Mobile has announced that its 3G/HSPA network service will be discontinued as of July 1, 2022.
Verizon uses a different 3G standard, known as CDMA. CDMA is no longer supported by Canadian wireless service providers so the shutdown of its CDMA network, also expected to be in 2022, will not impact Canadian mobile wireless subscribers.
I am a subscriber to a Canadian wireless service provider, why should I be aware of U.S. 3G network service discontinuation?
When travelling in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) Canadian subscribers are able to connect to the internet and make and receive mobile voice calls by accessing the mobile wireless networks of U.S. service providers. This is referred to as “roaming”.
If your mobile device only supports 3G/HSPA network access, you will not be able to use voice services and you will be unable to connect to the internet and use mobile data services on AT&T and T-Mobile networks once their 3G network services are discontinued. If you have a 4G LTE device that does not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming, you will not be able to make or receive voice calls on AT&T or T-Mobile mobile networks.
Provided you have a compatible device, wireless services will continue to be available on U.S. carrier 4G LTE and 5G networks when roaming in the U.S.A.
See “Based on my device type, what services are impacted by the 3G network discontinuation?” below for more details.
How can I determine if I am on AT&T or T-Mobile’s 3G / HSPA network when roaming?
Near the battery icon on the display screen on most mobile devices there will be a 3G / HSPA network identifier shown when connected to a 3G/HSPA network. You will typically see an LTE or 4G carrier network identifier if you are using a 4G LTE-capable device and connected to a 4G LTE network.
What is Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Roaming?
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows customers with a compatible phone to place and receive voice calls over a 4G LTE network instead of a 3G/HSPA network. VoLTE enables faster call connection times and improved voice quality service. VoLTE roaming is placing and receiving voice calls while accessing the network of a service provider that is not your home service provider. Check your 4G LTE compatible mobile device specifications to confirm it supports VoLTE roaming. If you have an older LTE device, you may need to update your device software.
What do I need to do to enable VoLTE on my VoLTE roaming compatible device?
Some devices will default automatically to having the 4G LTE and VoLTE service selected. For other devices you have to enable 4G LTE and VoLTE service in the device settings.
For details on how to check the settings on your device to ensure both 4G LTE and VoLTE service are turned on, visit your device manufacturer’s support pages.
Select service provider VoLTE information can be found by clicking on the service provider below:
Based on my device type, what services are impacted by the discontinuation of the U.S. 3G network services when I am travelling in the U.S.?
How can I tell if I have a 3G/HSPA only device or a 4G LTE device that supports VoLTE?
There are a number of ways to determine what network standards your mobile device supports.
- In your device settings look for your mobile network connection details. Depending on your device and the applicable operating system, you should be able to see a list of which type of network connections your device supports.
- You can check the specifications for your device on your device manufacturer’s website or device documentation to determine what network connections it supports and whether it also supports VoLTE.
- There are third party websites, such as https://www.gsmarena.com/ (see Phone Finder tab), where you can check what network standards are supported by your mobile device.
- If in doubt, you should consult the support pages of your service providers’ website or contact your service provider.
How can I determine if my device will still work on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks after they discontinue 3G/HSPA network service?
Question 7 above provides a general overview of what services are impacted based on your device type. If you still have questions, you should contact your service provider directly to determine if your device will continue to work on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks after they discontinue 3G/HSPA services.
What should I do if my phone will no longer work on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks following their discontinuation of 3G / HSPA network services?
If you wish to use mobile voice and data services while travelling in the U.S. you will need to upgrade your device to one that is Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming compatible. Contact your service provider to learn more about what upgrade options are available to you.
Compatible 4G LTE devices (without Voice over LTE roaming capabilities) will continue to be able to use data services (but not voice call services) when in the 4G LTE network coverage on AT&T and T-Mobile.
I have a 5G phone, will it continue to work on AT&T and T-Mobile networks?
Yes, 5G phones will be able to work on AT&T and T-Mobile 4G/LTE and compatible 5G networks. If in doubt, you can check the specifications for your device on the device manufacturer’s website.
If my device will no longer work on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, can I still use my mobile device connected to Wi-Fi when travelling in the U.S.?
The AT&T and T-Mobile 3G/HSPA network service discontinuation should not impact your ability to use your device’s Wi-Fi capabilities when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Where can I find more information about how the U.S. 3G/HSPA network shutdown will impact me?
Visit your service provider’s web site for further details or contact your service provider.
The following is a list of service provider web pages on the topic that are known to us as of the publication date of this FAQ:
Fido (Postpaid): https://www.fido.ca/support/mobility/3g-shutdowns-postpaid
Fido (Prepaid): https://www.fido.ca/support/mobility/3g-shutdowns-prepaid
Rogers (Pay As You Go): https://www.rogers.com/support/mobility/3g-shutdowns-pay-as-you-go
Virgin Plus: www.virginplus.ca/HSPANetwork