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5G Network Will Cause Senior’s Emergency  Buttons to Stop Working


By Laurie Hanson

Emergency alert button devices that seniors and their families have come to rely upon are undergoing a gradual change that could make them no longer operational.

“This is a nationwide issue.,” said Chris Holbert, CEO of SecuraTrac, a manufacturer that supplies mobile personal emergency response devices (mPERS) to monitoring companies in the U.S., Canada and select other countries worldwide. “As telecom providers prepare to upgrade networks to new 5G capabilities and remove 3G services, some mPERS devices may become obsolete.”

“It is hard to say [how many people will be affected] given that most companies keep this information proprietary, but based on our knowledge of the industry there will be at least one milion customers affected in the U.S.,” he said.

Holbert explained this is because many of the “panic button” devices were designed using 3G or even 2G and EDGE technologies because the data being transferred by the device is light and does not require the higher speeds of a 4G network, let alone 5G.

“As networks are upgraded, 2G and 3G devices could lose coverage and become less reliable,” he added. “This is because telecom companies will be trading out the 2G and 3G technologies on cell phone towers for faster 4G and 5G technologies.”

Traditional devices will no longer be compatible with the new network speeds and could experience drops in coverage because they were operating on 2G or 3G networks which will not work with the new network speeds, according to Holbert.

“Companies that provide monitoring services for mPERS devices should be reaching out to customers and informing them that their devices may need to be upgraded to a 4G device in order to ensure ongoing coverage,” he said.

The switchover to 5G is expected to be gradual having started last year. However, it will occur at different rates in different regions around the country, according to Holbert.

“Verizon eliminated its 3G networks at the end of 2020, and AT&T is working through a plan to sunset 3G by 2022,” he said. “Each provider publishes the regions where they will swap older 3G for newer 4G
and 5G towers as they upgrade their networks.”

Ericsson, an information communication technology company that installs 5G technologies on cell phone towers, predicts that by 2023, twenty percent of the world’s population will have 5G coverage, according to Holbert.

“It is likely that people who live in cities and larger metropolitan areas will be affected by the transition first because providers typically update cell phone tower technology in urban areas first,” he said. “But eventually, every area of the country will be impacted.”

Companies providing mPERS services are expected to be reaching out to their customers via email or snail mail and customers should not ignore their communications or put off upgrading thinking there’s time still before it affects them, according to Holbert.

“Since it may be impossible to predict an exact date that someone could lose their coverage it is important to update devices as soon as possible to avoid a situation where the device is no longer able to communicate,” he said.

For more information about SecuraTrac, please visit online at www.securatrac.com.


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