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jrb451

AT&T Disabling my 4G Capable Phone, Why?

jrb451
3 months ago

A few months back AT&T alerted us that they were discontinuing 3G service in February 2022 and, if you had a 3G only phone it would no longer work on their network. You could check their website for information on which phones were impacted. I did and my LG G6 was listed as being capable of working on the “new” network.


This past week I received a text and an email from AT&T which reads in part:

“To use your AT&T service once we shut down our 3G network, you’ll need a new cell phone that works with our enhanced network. That means your cell phone ending in XXXX will need to be replaced.


We’re shipping you a new FREE cell phone, similar to the one you have today. You can start enjoying the benefits of our improved network as soon as you activate your new cell phone, and don’t worry, your cell phone number will stay the same.


You should receive your free cell phone in the next few weeks. Once you get it, just set it up using the simple instructions in the box. If you don’t activate your new cell phone, we will automatically activate it in approximately 30 days. Once your new cell phone is activated, your current cell phone will only be able to call 911 and 611 until February 2022 when we sunset our 3G network”


I go to a local AT&T store to find out why they’re going to deactivate my phone which will work on their 4G network. They can’t explain as my phone was showing me getting 4G service as we talked. They said I needed to call AT&T, which I did.


AT&T says they will support the LG G6 on their 4G network but only model #H777 and mine is US977. (It was purchased unlocked but not from AT&T.)


Here’s my question: If my current phone is 4G capable shouldn’t I be able to remove the SIM card from my new phone and put it in my G6 and have it work? AT&T is only deactivating my current SIM, right?


TIA

Comments (39)

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    You need to call ATT tech support, to reach someone who can speak knowledgeably on the topic and can give you specific answers to all your questions, including the compatibility of the phone you have.

    People in cell phone stores work in sales, not tech support. They can describe the phones they have on display in the stores and how they work - they get training for that- but you can't expect them to know much more. I don't have ATT but rather Verizon and it's the same - my wife has learned the hard way, with too many "I was walking by the store and thought I could stop in and get some questions answered". NOPE. Fortunately, at least with Verizon, the tech support people you reach by phone are really good and have helpful attitudes. They have reference material to check when they get stumped. I'd hope the ATT ones are the same.

    If they're giving you a new phone, I'd say you come out on top. It could be worse. How? I got a message from the manufacturer that my 5 year old car would be losing its internet, map traffic updates, and connectivity in general in February for the same reason. They're not sending me a new car. I have to buy a new one, which I'll be doing-- the connectivity and real-time traffic navigation are important to me.

    Good luck

  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Elmer, I did call AT&T tech - “They said I needed to call AT&T, which I did. AT&T says they will support the LG G6 on their 4G network but only model #H777 and mine is US977. (It was purchased unlocked but not from AT&T.)”

    The new ”similar” phone they’re offering is not. It’s an AT&T Radiant Core. It retails for $29.98. My phone was $500ish in 2018. Here’s a portion of an on-line review I found on this phone. ”Finishing off our AT&T Radiant Core review, we suggest checking out other phones besides this. At a retail price of $29.98, it’s easy to get attracted to its extremely cheap price. However, the money is not worth the lackluster performance we’re getting from this phone.”

    My gut is telling me they want to sell me a new phone and put me under contract.

    Now, about putting the new SIM in my old phone. Any opionion on if that will work? If I were to change carriers that would be what I’d do. That’s what I did when I switched from Tmobile to AT&T a few years back. You carry your current phone and replace with their SIM.

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    jrb, I know that SIM cards are carrier specific, to make the connection, it's both a system thing and an identity/authorization thing specific to the card and the system. When you travel abroad and buy a local SIM card, you take out what's there and put in the new one for connectivity to the local system. When you go home, you reverse the process and toss the foreign SIM card.

    However, I suspect that the phone itself needs to be able to deal with the different kind of signals (4 or 5G in place of 3G) because if all it took were a replacement of the SIM card, they could do that more easily and cheaply for their customers. Similarly, my car has a presumably 3G SIM card for its connections and the manufacturer has told me nothing can be done and the signal is cut off in February.

    I think 3G is cut off by all carriers at the end of February. Some people will get angry and change carriers but everyone with an older incompatible phone is in the same boat. Maybe ATT's info about your model is wrong, or maybe not. If I have the date right, you could wait until the beginning of March to see if you have a a data connection.

    Unless you use this phone rarely, it sounds like you've had it for several years, it may be time anyway to get a new one?

  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Elmer, I appreciate the comments but my phone works on 4G already. So, to my thinking, taking away 3G shouldn't effect my ability to connect to 4G. I understand what you're saying but I feel you're missing the point of my question. I think my phone should work like your example of foreign travel. I was hoping someone could confirm. I guess I'll find out. BTW, my phone is only 3 years old.


    Again, thanks for your time considering my question.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    "feel you're missing the point of my question. I think my phone should work like your example of foreign travel."

    I think I understood your question. What you think should work and what works may not be the same. As a now passe example, putting a local SIM in a phone for a European GSM signal, when the phone itself doesn't have GSM circuitry (Verizon uses CDMA but now sells dual system phones for abroad), accomplished nothing. All their phones today are "global" but at one time they weren't and putting in a SIM for a GSM signal in a non "global" phone not that many years ago accomplished nothing but a dead phone. Those phones also wouldn't connect for international roaming if the only local signals were GSM. The phone couldn't process the different signal. It's not like turning on a AM/FM radio such that any hardware can accept the RF signal.

    There's nothing to confirm until the legacy signal is shut off. I'm sympathetic about the task the cell carriers have to try to keep on top of the hundreds of models that may connect to their system. Especially with models they perhaps haven't sold, coming to them with a BYO phone setup, they can't know everything. There's nothing to confirm - their information covered models they knew would work. They'd be the first to say there are probably others not on the list.

    You'll find out. But I'll reiterate my belief that if the innards of your phone can't process a 4G signal, changing a SIM will do nothing.

    They're not "disabling" your phone as you describe. If your phone, like my car, can't receive the newer system signal when the old system is discontinued, that's just how it is.

  • mike_kaiser_gw
    3 months ago

    I'm hardly an expert but it's a bit more complicated that a phone just being capable of "4G". There are different frequencies that carriers use and you old phone may simply not have the correct chipset in it to support those [new] frequencies. There's probably a bunch of other stuff too and I don't understand much less can explain. Changing the SIM card will not make your old phone work after drop dead date.


    If you don't want the replacement phone AT&T is sending tell them to keep it. Then your options are to find a carrier that supports your current phone or buy a new phone that's compatible with AT&T's network.


    If it makes you feel any better, I'm experiencing problems with my aging Pixel 2 on T-Mobile's network for the same reasons.



    jrb451 thanked mike_kaiser_gw
  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Thanks Mike for the additional info. I did a little more sleuthing on this topic and found a couple of articles. Apparently, though not noted in AT&Ts communications to customers, there are some 4G phones that will be impacted when shutting off their 3G network - 4G phones that are not HD Voice compatible. It showed how to check your phone to see if it 4G & HD Voice compatible. I did check and my phone is, so, according to this article, it should work.


    The SIM card in my G6 is the same SIM card I was issued for my G2 in 2016 when switching to AT&T from Tmobile. When I bought my unlocked G6 in 2018, this SIM was transferred into it. In my reading, it appears that the SIM card as well as the phone must be 4G LTE compatible, which my older SIM is not.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    SIM cards cost a few bucks - they're neither an issue nor the problem for the system change, if you have one. As I thought I'd explained.

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    All carriers are ditching 3g so it's not just AT&T, this was all over the news last year and discussion forums for cell providers.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    jrb451 isn't sure if her phone is affected or not. Maybe it'll continue working

    The applicable term is "backward compatiblility". The lack of same is not something that's unusual. At some point, as new software and hardware enhancements get added to existing systems, stuff that was designed to operate with older systems and standards from earlier years can no longer be supported with newer systems. The term used for this is to say that code or a software version (which, after all, is what runs cell phones) has been "deprecated", no longer supported and no longer usable.

    The company that's famous for doing this in an accelerated manner is Apple. They often introduce new operating systems and software that many suspect are intentionally not compatible with earlier project versions and they simply cut off the older stuff. We have an iPad, that I knew was no longer getting OS or app updates, that had an app we use get corrupted . When I tried to download another copy, I learned that no further App Market connections would be permitted. I didn't want an updated version, the old one would have been fine. Nope, not possible. It got tossed and we had to buy a new one. As I have to do with my car (as I mentioned above) and jrb and some othes may need to do with phones. I'd rather be having to buy a new iPad or phone than a new car but hey, it's a good excuse to get new wheels. .

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Lucky they are shipping her a new one free but the G6 was not a very cheap phone. I would question if you are getting a brand new phone or a reconditioned phone of some sort. I switched from a verizon branded LG G6 to a samsung last summer. On verizon that phone is not being cut off as it's a 4g smart phone so very weird. Only reason I can think why they would do this is LG is getting out of the phone business so no more LG phones coming out which is why I switched. I found LG was not a quality phone this last time. I am pretty sure there are AT&T wireless forums. I used to use android central and the LG G6 forum for my phone. Other users were very helpful to me. I just checked my G6 and it's still working as a wifi device and can download apps from Google. Mary

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Ahh it's an unocked LG G6, that could be why. Look at the first one here, lists phones that will work. I am surprised though they are replacing it free but will probably be an AT&T branded one and not unlocked. Never had their service but that text sounds fishy to me about a free phone so ask a lot of questions. An unlocked LG G6 costs about $450. Mary


    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en-US&ie=UTF-8&source=android-browser&q=at%26t+wireless+discontinuing+the+LG+G6

  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    It appears that AT&T is using the shutting down of their 3G network as an opportunity to purge 3rd party phones from their network, not all but some. Their text, email and letter all state “To use your AT&T service once we shut down our 3G network, you’ll need a new cell phone that works with our enhanced network. That means your cell phone ending in XXXX will need to be replaced.”


    The LG G6 I have is a 4G LTE phone and is capable of working on AT&Ts “enhanced” network. arcrafty’s link to AT&Ts link on phones that will work lists the LG G6 as one that will but it is their model H871. Mine is a ”US977”, unlocked.


    I'm now thinking that it’s not a case of not being able to work as AT&T states but one where my phone’s IMEI# will be blocked when their ”enhanced” network goes live next February.

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Mine on Verizon is LTE too. I would really find the AT&T wireless forums and android central. You will.probsbly find other users in the same boat and maybe gain some info. No clue about any enhanced network if Verizon is doing that. I only ketp my G6 for back up. My Samsung note 10 plus I bought last summer I didn't get the 5g version so hope it last me a few more years. If they are sending you a completely free phone with no strings then you should be all set. If it's a phone comparable to the G6 storage wise and stuff then should be good. If they send something inferior then I wouldn't be happy. Did they state what model phone and if it's brand new in the box or refurbished?

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Verizon used to sell strictly locked phones, which was a hassle in advance of foreign travel - you had to call Tech Support and have them walk you through the unlock process, which they always did. Then some years ago, at least 5 or 6, they stopped selling locked phones.

    I have a second cheap "burner" cell phone I use for a specific purpose. From Tracfone. It was sold locked, and they said they'd unlock it after 12 months. That was 3 years ago.

    Are you suggesting (in general) that that these practices have changed?

    (I still have an excuse to get a new BMW, I'm happy about that).

  • dadoes
    3 months ago

    I had an iPhone5 that is locked to AT&T, referenced as 4G LTE on the bill. Does the LTE part deprecate it? They said I must get a new phone, sent a iPhone SE 2020, no charge, no contract.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Not sure dadoes. The data generations thing (and it really mostly affects data) has never been a topic of interest to me over the years, I have unlimited data to use but I rarely am doing anything on my primary phone nor am I so impatient that data bandwidth much matters to me.

    I did contact Tracfone to see if I might need a new handset for my burner, specific use second cell phone I use on their "system". No harm, no foul if so, they're cheap (I spent $50 for a new, basic Galaxy smartphone 3 years ago, that works fine), and I know the one I have is CDMA and connects to Verizon. The technician I asked said - "No, you're fine. Your phone is 4G LTE so it will continue to work when Verizon changes its system."

    There seems to be some degree of misunderstanding and confusion on this topic, it reminds me of one of George Carlin's word gags - "Flammable, inflammable, non-inflammable. Why are there three? Shouldn't two words be able to handle it? Either the thing flams or it doesn't flam" Keeping that succinct philosophy in mind, when the systems change early next year, an older phone will either work or not work. If it doesn't work, get a new one!

  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    @arcraftylady, the three, one’s a flip phone, one’s an android AT&T Radiant Core (retails for $29.98, excerpt from review posted above), and the third’s an IPhone SE. They may be ”similar” to AT&T‘s thinking but they are not comparable.

  • mtvhike
    3 months ago

    This is an interesting discussion for me. I live in a Verizon-only region, and mostly it's 3G. I did get a new iPhone recently which is rated as 5G and I assume it's downwardly compatible (it seems to work fine), but I do notice that in weak areas, the symbol (which usually says 3G or LTE) says "1x", and the connection is marginal. When I drive between towns, the signal drops to zero when I'm about 3 miles out of town.

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Wow definitely not the same as an LG G6. I guess if you want better you have to buy your own. That really stinks.

    jrb451 thanked acraftylady
  • jrb451
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Yes, even the AT&T folks on line and in their stores are saying that. They’re glad to sell me a new phone, add it on my monthly bill and put me under contract though.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Your comment interested me enough to do a bit more looking, mtvhike. I found that Verizon has postponed its shutoff of 3G until December 31, 2022. Add another 18 months from today to the life of one's smartphone and if replacement time for a non-compliant phone doesn't otherwise come before then (due to death of the device), it will come then. Reasonable enough.

    What I've read suggests generally 5G phones work fine with a 4G signal. Since every phone is different, check with Tech Support to learn what to expect from your phone. There are also two kinds of 5G on Verizon- "normal" 5G and what I'll call "super duper" 5G that uses mini transmitters on a block by block basis in downtown city locations. The hardware for the latter kind is being built out now in major cities and will be more broadly available and in more locations as time goes on.

    If your normal haunts are in hilly areas as mine are, it's true that low signal or no signal areas can be a bit too common. That's another good reason to call Tech Support to let them know where you lose a signal. In my case, polite gripes about a few places in my neighborhood plus a degrading signal in my home in recent years resulted in my being the grateful recipient of a Verizon Range Extender for free (normally sold by V for $250). It's essentially a mini-cell tower that sends out its own Verizon 4G LTE signal and routes the signal over your internet connection. I went from 2 bars at home to a solid 4-5.

  • mtvhike
    3 months ago

    Well, every time you need to change your phone is an opportunity to change your service!

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    I never buy my phone directly from verizon. I watch the sales at best buy and just pay cash as I don't want the monthly payments.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Missed that exchange while typing my comment.

    I know many switch from service to service from time to time. I have a V family plan with 8 devices connected, all with different purchase periods running. Verizon has long had the best signal in the areas where I live and spend time. I have a few minor gripes about Verizon - like having higher than its competitors rates for foreign country connections- but I can deal with that. I'm unlikely to ever change.

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Same here Elmer. Tried T‐mobile once for a month and what a disaster and no one could solve my problem or was interested in getting it resolved so back to verizon I went. We have 3 on our plan and I was testing to see about moving us all over to T-mobile. If you read the verizon wireless forums customer service is non existent now. People also having major signal issues in areas where they used to gave great signal and not getting credits for BOGO. People switching from another carrier and being told they can trade old phone in for $600 then not getting the bill credit every month and having to fight or trade in center claims phone is not perfect here is only $100. I refuse to bother with their deals and go through that.


    Plan on keeping these phones a few years as we really like them and the 256mb of storage on them, best phones we ever had. I traveled last week from Buffalo NY to Philly and Atlantic city NJ and back and had no signal issues. We are all on start unlimited and it works fast and smooth yet people in other parts of the country complain start unlimited is slow and horrible. I gamed in the car, watched youtube and all kinds of stuff and had no issues. I had awesome signal at every port in Alaska 2yrs ago. Mary

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago

    "If you read the verizon wireless forums customer service is non existent now."


    Can you clarify this comment please, I'm not sure what you're saying. Are you saying people are reporting that Verizon Customer Service is a problem?

  • acraftylady
    3 months ago

    Yes a huge problem and they are no help if you have a phone or account issue. I am telling you it's really bad, been bad even before the pandemic. If you have issues good luck trying to get through and speaking to a human. My feeling is they plucked people off the street and gave them a handbook to read and said have at it. Even the reps on the forum are sometimes no help. They don't know how to read. Read this. They are not even asking about lines and sub accounts. I swear it's bots answering the questions. There are some customers that know more than the so called reps as I have seen them help for years on the forums and know more. People have to call for months to get credits for bogo or trade in's. Verizon must figure they will give up and not bother or something. Thankfully I have no issues with my account. What I don't get is people coming from AT&T and having loads of problems at the start saying they should never have switched. Why did they switch in the first place if AT&T was so much better? I guess they thought they were going to get $600 for an old phone not worth that much towards a new phone. It's seems verizon has become a liar and just says things to keep people or get them to sign up. Except for trying t-mobile have no experience with other carriers. Mary


    https://community.verizon.com/t5/iPad/Spending-Limit-Explanation/m-p/1217586#M2885



  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    "Yes a huge problem"

    What's the huge problem?

    The thread originator in the post you linked seems like a dunderhead. They were offered a solution and they continue their hissy fit? They've been a long term customer for one year. Seriously?. Who's supposed to be persuaded there's a problem when they've maxed out on what appears to be an account limit?

    I'm sure the solution is to pay down more of the devices. Verizon is a cellular carrier, not a bank.

    Not to repeat how many decades I've been a Verizon (and predecessor) customer but I can't think of any company that provides more satisfactory and customer-centric Customer Service and Tech Support than Verizon. I don't contact them often, maybe something comes up every 6 months (I'm the account honcho) but questions are answered and problems (however slight) get solved most satisfactorily and efficiently.

    My experience is that people who grouse in online forums (Yelp is a great example) usually show little intelligence and have a "get even', vindictive attitude. Yawn. It's why I give them little attention. .

  • mtvhike
    3 months ago

    I’ve always had good service from Verizon, but only in person, at a corporate store. It’s also the only game in town.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Try calling in, they're really quite customer friendly and knowledgeable. Pick a non-peak time, you won't wait long.

    As I think I've said before, store workers at Verizon and other company stores are employed in their retail sales departments, not tech support. My experience is that they may know about this or that for models currently offered for sale - user hints and tricks that are passed along in their sales training - but not otherwise.

    I've found on a few occasions workers at "authorized distributors" to be completely worthless. One in particular, I was out of town and staying at a travel hotel in a strip center that had an "authorized distributor" across the parking lot . It was easy enough to walk over, I had a question. They were clueless.

  • acraftylady
    2 months ago

    Elmer the solution they were offered is not the correct solution to their problem. Opening a sub account will not change their finance limit so they missed that all together what the person is asking. The other customer that replied got it correct.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    As before, I don't follow what your gripe is. If it has something to do with the thread you linked to with the words of an obviously perplexed Verizon customer of apparently limited understanding or an apparent inability to ask the right questions to get the advice needed, or less than satisfactory experience with Tech or Customer Support (something I've never experienced in over 30 years of being their customer), no need to respond.

  • acraftylady
    2 months ago

    My gripe is legit customer services reps on that forum identified as such because of there badge don't know squat and why they are even working in customer service is beyond me. As I said the customer service reps solution was to open a sub account which does not change their credit limit problem so was a useless answer that does not solve the problem.. It's the same when you call in if you can even reach customer service now without being disconnected after being on hold for 1hr. Less people working and call centers closed so if you have a major issue with your account goof luck getting help. It's good credit limits are in place tbough.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    It looked to me like the first response, which was from Verizon and in less than 30 after the thread started, answered the question. Verizon isn't going to converse with that person about specifics, alternatives, etc., related to his personal account(s) on that forum, What if his credit report stinks? Or he filed for bankruptcy two years ago? Or he's unemployed? Expect any of these to be discussed in the forum, by him or by the company?. I don't know what was expected, by the poster or by you.


    There are mainstream ways to connect to Verizon for customer service and this isn't one of them. He feels entitled to better service after being a long term customer for more than one year now. Impressed? You're welcome to be exercised over a situation about which so little is known.

  • vgkg Z-7 Va
    last month

    Another ATT new cell phone tidbit to add here.

    The new cell phone which we received does not allow it's bluetooth function to download the phone's contacts to our car. The old 3G phone did just fine. We have to ring up the number on the phone first before it connects to the hand's free car. ATT says that there is no remedy for this failure, it's basically tough luck. Looking at Consumer Cellular now, their $10/month cheaper plan suits us. We only use this phone when traveling so it's a pain, plus my state now has a hands free only law. ATT GFY.

    jrb451 thanked vgkg Z-7 Va
  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    "The new cell phone which we received"


    If you're saying this is a free replacement for a 3G phone, I'm going to guess what you may have received was a phone of very limited capability that's very inexpensive. Put another way, a cheap phone for free. Can you afford to buy something that's more capable? The phone companies give you something like 14 days after buying a new phone to return it so that if you find a different model doesn't connect as you'd like it to, you could return it. Or, spend $30 for a Bluetooth earpiece.


    Bluetooth is only a connection method, like a wire. If it isn't working, Bluetooth isn't the reason, it could be a limitation of the phone (as you suggest) or an incompatibility between it and the car's infotainment system. Speaking of wires, will it work as you if you connect the phone to the car using a USB cord?


    3 1/2 years ago, I bought a cheap (like $50) Samsung smartphone from Tracfone for a particular need I didn't want to use my regular smartphone for. The Samsung is not an impressive phone - it's a low end model - but it's adequate for what I use it for.


    The Tracfone plan I use is cheapest they offer at $120 per year, which includes more minutes than I'd ever use plus 1.5 GB of data. Extra data is $10 per GB, I've never used more than 4 GB in a year. Great service, the one I have connects to Verizon's network and others use ATT. I think Consumer Cellular is a bit more, though still modestly priced. Check out both, what would be best for you would depend on the nature and amount of use.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Interesting. That's apparently a new and low cost operating system, one I hadn't heard of before (though that doesn't mean anything). Frankly, it seems to be targeted now for low cost phones in Third World countries. That may be the reason why it doesn't work with your car, car systems probably look for either iOS or Android and this is neither. Nothing with that OS is listed as being sold on the ATT website.

    I think if you find a suitable Android phone, it should work. Good luck.