AT&T just sent out an email to some customers that scared the crap out of them. But what they were actually trying to convey is not as bad as it seems.
My family’s cellphone plan includes my father, who uses an archaic iPhone 3GS. (It’s from 2009.) So, on Tuesday, when the the telecommunications company emailed him and other users with older phones announcing, “UPDATE NEEDED,” in huge font, it was clearly because of my dad’s elderly handset.
The email explained, “we will soon be upgrading our network,” before sharing the bad news: “Your device … is not compatible with the new network and you need to replace it to continue receiving service.”
Super vague and threatening.
Since there was nothing in the email saying when this would be happening, people like my mother, the account holder, assumed the upgrade would need to happen right away. She immediately freaked out about transferring my change-adverse dad to a newer iPhone.
If you click through the alarming email, however, you’ll quickly see that this is all because of AT&T’s 5G network upgrades, which are slated for 2022. The current 3G network will be phased out — but not until February of that year. After that point, voice calls won’t work on phones using 3G and 4G networks, like my dad’s phone.
If you click yet another link on that webpage you’ll find a list of all compatible phones, which includes Apple smartphones, but only those after the iPhone 6.
We reached out to AT&T to hear more about its notification strategy and whether it intentionally wanted to freak out customers, but hadn’t heard back at press time.
My dad’s old phone isn’t going to cut it much longer. But he’s got well over a year to fix that.