AT&T will officially shut down its 3G network today, completing a phase-out of the near-obsolete connectivity as newer, high-speed options are now available. If you own a Model S vehicle built before June 2015, your car may be affected.
AT&T planned to shut down its 3G network as LTE, 4G, and 5G networks offer customers faster speeds. 3G is simply no longer needed. However, customers of other companies who have used AT&T’s 3G network are also affected. This, unfortunately, includes anyone who owns a pre-June 2015 build of the Model S, as its infotainment center needs to be upgraded to be compatible with the newer networks.
In July, Teslarati reported that AT&T’s 3G network shutdown would require a retrofit in any Model S built before June 2015. The retrofit is available for only $200, even though a vehicle affected could be nine years old by this time. Infotainment Upgrades for owners who drive pre-April 2018 versions of the Model S or Model X are eligible to purchase the MCU2 upgrade as well, but it’s available for $2,000 plus tax unless Autopilot Computer 2.0 or 2.5 is installed. For vehicles equipping the Autopilot 2.0 or 2.5 computer, the upgrade is only $1,500.
How to know if your Tesla Model S is affected
Tesla encourages owners to check if their vehicles are affected. “Your vehicle will be affected by AT&T’s 3G network shutdown if it is a Model S vehicle built before June 2015 and has not been upgraded to an LTE-capable modem or purchased Infotainment Upgrade, as these vehicles were not produced with a 4G/LTE capable modem.”
“You can also check your vehicle’s cellular network by looking at the connectivity status bars/icon near the top of the touchscreen. If ‘LTE’ is displayed next to this icon at any time (may require stable cellular connectivity), your vehicle will not be affected by AT&T’s 3G network shutdown,” Tesla said.
Owners can schedule the appointment by going to the Tesla Mobile App. Select ‘Schedule Service’ > ‘Upgrades & Accessories’ > ‘LTE Upgrade.’
The upgrade is needed because the Model S built before June 2015 uses a modem that is 3G compatible. New builds contain LTE-compatible modems that will operate with 4G and 5G networks.
Without upgrading, owners will lose the ability to access the following features unless connected to Wi-Fi:
- Roadside assistance to unlock your vehicle remotely
- Certain mobile app capabilities, including Summon, cabin pre-conditioning, vehicle location, remote unlock, etc.
- Certain Infotainment features, including navigation, maps, live traffic updates, up-to-date Supercharger availability and outage information, online music streaming, and onboard map updates
- Over-the-air updates
AT&T told CNN Business in a statement earlier today, “For nearly two years, we’ve proactively sent numerous communications via direct mail, bill messaging, emails and text messages to help customers transition to next-generation networks before 3G services end on February 22.” AT&T has been provided free replacement phones to many users with a 3G device since 2020.
3G networks launched back in 2002 and were an integral part of the growth of cell phones and wireless communications. Eventually, faster speeds were needed and shutting down the 3G networks globally is part of a larger commitment to re-use 4G and 5G infrastructure, which is more efficient than 3G. Verizon and T-Mobile will also deactivate their 3G networks by the end of the year.
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