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Delay in AT&T’s 3G Shutdown Is Sought to Keep Home Alarms Working

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(Bloomberg) -- The home-alarm industry has asked regulators to delay AT&T Inc.’s planned shutdown of an old wireless network on Tuesday, saying time is needed to implement a roaming agreement so T-Mobile US Inc. can temporarily serve customer traffic and avoid service disruptions.

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The wireless industry has been shutting down the old 3G network as it transitions to newer and faster ones, such as 5G. That means some equipment, such as burglar alarms and medical alerts built for the old system may no longer work.

T-Mobile, which plans to keep its 3G network working until July 1, has struck a roaming agreement under which AT&T service can be temporarily routed onto T-Mobile’s network, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In roaming arrangements wireless companies agree to carry each other’s traffic. Neither AT&T nor T-Mobile immediately responded for a request for comment. AT&T has in the past opposed delays.

The Alarm Industry Communications Committee said in a filing posted Friday by the FCC that more time is needed to work out details. A delay of at least 60 to 70 days could help some customers who have relied on AT&T’s 3G network, although arrangements remain to be negotiated, the group said.

“It would be tragic and illogical for the tens of millions of citizens being protected by 3G alarm radios and other devices to be put at risk of death or serious injury, when the commission was able to broker a possible solution but inadequate time exists to implement that solution,” the group said.

The FCC has worked with AT&T on roaming options, the agency’s chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, said in a news conference Friday.

“I think we’ve made terrific progress and I think we are on course for this transition to take place with limited disruption,” Rosenworcel said.

AT&T announced the 3G network shutdown three years ago. The company said in a Feb. 15 statement that it was using a roaming option at the FCC’s urging. It didn’t provide details.

AT&T said that less than 1% of its mobile data traffic runs on 3G and it wants to reallocate the spectrum to help improve coverage by fast 5G networks.

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