Here's what the demise of 3G means for car owners

Here’s what the demise of 3G means for car owners

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  • When 3G cellular networks go down, remote start features and optional connectivity services are disconnected across the manufacturers spectrum.
  • While some companies like Subaru have upgraded to more modern 4G technology, other manufacturers like Lexus have opted out of potentially updating tens of thousands of models.
  • Models as recent as 2018 have lost the ability to remotely lock, automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident, and track the vehicle in the event of theft, frustrating customers who don’t have solution received.

    Relatively modern cars suddenly lose connectivity and safety systems, and the demise of 3G cellular networks is to blame. As mobile phone networks have moved to 4G technology and now 5G technology, the elimination of 3G networks has become a priority for these companies. But, as carriers make room for more advanced network services, many late-model cars dating back to 2018 won’t have access to features like remote locking and automatic crash notifications. And almost every manufacturer has felt the effects of this change, from GM to Mazda and Porsche.

    Companies like Lexus, however, say there is no solution. In a service bulletin provided last week, Lexus reminded US owners of 2010-2018 models that its Lexus Enform subscription services would be terminated on October 31, noting that no network updates or patches were available. While navigation services will remain functional, the company said automated collision notification, enhanced roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking systems will not work. The only Lexus model to remain unscathed is its base 2016-2017 CT200h, which means tens of thousands of models could be affected by this.

    2018 lexus gx460

    Lexus GX460 was the newest in the company’s lineup to use wireless remote start and flight tracking features, which no longer work on this 2018 model.

    David Dewhurst Photography

    This has left Lexus customers frustrated, especially those with 2018 models. But there are solutions. Manufacturers like BMW and Subaru issued similar bulletins to their customers as the impending 3G shutdown loomed, eventually retrofitting some models with updated software. The provider used by BMW and Subaru was due to phase out 3G technology earlier this year, and manufacturers have provided as many free updates for as many models as possible. Even then, BMW owners have complained that some dealerships charge high prices or claim that it’s impossible to update models with 4G service, which means it’s not just Lexus that has problems.

    Ultimately, manufacturers cannot be held responsible for the evolution of cellular technology. The kind of Starlink-style features and dial-up capabilities that are disappearing as a result of this 3G retirement were modern when introduced. And while it’s fair to say that advanced cellular networks are still on the horizon, manufacturers can’t necessarily predict when those advancements will occur. This story is not uncommon for the automotive industry, with once-fresh technology typically being phased out in as little as five years, and new models making strides to avoid reliance on mobile networks.

    This still leaves the owners of these vehicles – people who have paid money for high-tech luxury features – with no real solution. And the pain doesn’t end there, as disconnecting some features remotely is sure to devalue these second-hand models even further. To soften the blow, Lexus is reimbursing the costs of its connectivity subscriptions, a cheaper option than retrofitting potentially tens of thousands of cars for 4G capability. And manufacturers around the world are taking this as a lesson in over-reliance on cordless systems, especially for essential parts like key fobs, although these types of timing technologies will continue to plague recent models. cars for years to come.

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