United will fully shut down its legacy 3G network on July 31, 2023
As the cellular industry evolves, the older 3G networks that many phones utilize are no longer supported, forcing all cellular carriers (including United) to shut down their legacy 3G networks and transition to new VoLTE (Voice over LTE) networks. United is in the final stages of fully shutting down its legacy 3G network. This shutdown allows United to utilize spectrum for the buildout of our 5G network, which will provide customers with higher data speeds. The new VoLTE network also improves roaming coverage and gives customers the ability to use data while on phone calls.
Many customers will not notice a change with the shutdown of the 3G network. Impacted customers have received letters and/or text messages from United instructing them to either contact United for replacement options for incompatible phone(s) or to update the software on their phone(s) to make them compatible with the new VoLTE network and to avoid service suspension and eventual termination.
See below for instructions on updating the software on your eligible phone(s) and for FAQs regarding the 3G network shutdown and our new VoLTE network!
United Wireless 3G Network Shutdown & VoLTE FAQs
What is the 3G network?
3G refers to the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. These networks have fallen out of favor for newer networks (like 4G and 5G) as the demand for faster data speeds increased.
Why is United shutting down its 3G network?
Beginning in 2022, all major cellular carriers and many regional carriers began shutting down their 3G networks. United has roaming agreements with many of these carriers to give customers the best service when traveling outside United’s home territory in Southwest Kansas. The 3G network incurs a great cost to keep it running, and support for this outdated network has ended due to it being end-of-lifed by the manufacturers of that network equipment. Shutting down our 3G network also positions United to utilize that spectrum for the buildout of our 5G network infrastructure, which will give customers much faster data speeds in many markets.
When is United shutting down its 3G network?
United will fully shut down its legacy 3G network on Monday, July 31, 2023. United has been communicating with impacted customers since the fall of 2022 to give them ample time to update their phone software or upgrade eligible phone(s) to avoid an interruption in service. In late April and early May 2023, United began sending affected customers final notice letters instructing them to take the required action to avoid service suspension and eventual termination of service.
How will I know if I am impacted by the shutdown of United's 3G network?
Many customers will not notice a change when United’s 3G network is shut down. Impacted customers have received multiple communications from United via letters and text messages instructing them to either update their phone’s software or upgrade eligible phone(s) at no cost to them. If you receive a message from United and are unsure of the legitimacy of the communication, please contact United at 620-227-8127. It is essential that customers being asked to update or upgrade their phones do so to prevent suspension and eventual termination of their cellular service with United.
What is United doing to support customers during the 3G shutdown?
Many customers will not notice an impact to service with the shutdown of United’s 3G network. For other customers, a simple software update can make their phones eligible for our new VoLTE network and no other changes are needed.
Customers with older phones may need to upgrade their phones to an eligible model. United has a replacement program allowing customers to receive a complimentary upgrade to a new phone(s) if their phone(s) is not compatible with United’s new network. These complimentary phones have the same or even better specs than their current models!
Will there be any changes with the new network?
The old 3G networks were designed for voice coverage. The newer 4G/LTE and 5G networks are designed for data. Because of this, customers may experience changes in expected coverage and signal. If you previously had voice service in your basement or in a metal shed, for example, you may notice that your calls could be choppier or have a lower quality. United has launched VoWi-Fi for iPhone customers to help provide service in areas where the new network does not offer as strong of voice signal.
After United completes the shutdown of its 3G network, network technicians and engineers will optimize the new network and evaluate if there is a cost-effective need for any additional cell sites in Southwest Kansas.
You may also experience changes in ringback on the new network. In some cases, you may not hear ringing when attempting to call another party, you may only hear ringing on some calls, or you may only experience an interrupted ring (it may not ring the entire time you are waiting for the other party or their voicemail to pick up).
The new VoLTE network will keep calls connected in a different manner than the previous 3G network. Instead of dropping a call, you may experience a period of dead air or lose audio if one of the parties on the call is moving around in an area of weaker coverage. If you experience a period of dead air, do not end the call right away. Usually, the audio will come back within 10-15 seconds.
What is VoLTE (Voice over LTE)?
VoLTE is the ability for your voice services (phone calls and text messages) to run over the LTE data network. VoLTE is the new network that customers’ phones will be using for voice, text, and data services.
What are the benefits of VoLTE?
There are several benefits to the new VoLTE network:
- Customers will now be able to use data while on a phone call.
- VoLTE should also increase the quality of calls and experience while outside of United’s home network.
- Customers will enjoy a shorter connection time for calls to connect.
Instructions for Updating Software on Apple iPhones:
On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update and follow the prompts!
Instructions for Updating Software on Android smartphones:
The steps you need to follow will vary depending on the software version your Android smartphone is currently on.
Go to Settings > Software Update, and follow the instructions. When your phone restarts after the update, please follow these instructions again until your phone tells you there are no more updates available (you may have to install a couple of software updates to get to the latest version).
Go to Settings > About Phone > Software Update, and follow the instructions. When your phone restarts after the update, please follow these instructions again until your phone tells you there are no more updates available (you may have to install a couple of software updates to get to the latest version).
We are here to help!
United is committed to helping customers with this transition. If you need assistance with the required software updates, or your phones are eligible for replacement and you need help understanding your options, please stop in or give us a call at 620-227-8641. Our representatives and agents are ready to assist you!