5G update prevents some cars from having a working internet connection

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Chances are you haven’t given much thought to older 3G cellular networks, as today’s talk is about 5G, the super-fast new network for smartphones and other wireless devices. But as Consumer Reports explains, millions of connected cars could lose vital safety features as wireless carriers begin shutting down those old 3G networks.

Consumer Reports has been saying for years that a car is a computer on wheels, and in many cases it is also a cell phone. Almost every vehicle today has a built-in internet connection. And that can be used for safety features, such as automatically calling for help in the event of a crash, or convenience, such as starting the car remotely or checking whether the doors are locked or unlocked.

But for millions of cars on the road today, that technology relies on an aging 3G wireless network. And by the end of this year, all major mobile carriers will shut down their 3G networks permanently.

Automakers have known this for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that they put 3G technology in new vehicles. They knew that customers would be left without access to some of these services. Some cars already have 4G capabilities, so you may only need to do a software update at home, just like you would for a phone or laptop, to keep your car’s connected services. Others require a hardware upgrade, and that can come at a cost for many car owners. But knowing which updates your vehicle needs is not that easy.

When Consumer Reports reported this story, it was difficult to figure out which cars were affected, and it had to go to the owner’s manuals and look at tech documents to find out.

The best advice is to ask your dealer if and when the affiliate services expire. You can also check your make and model online or find Consumer Reports’ list of cars that may be affected by the 3G shutdown.

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