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Why a ‘non-event’ for ADT customers was one of the biggest wins in our 150-year history  

When ADT learned that millions of its security systems would be cut off from monitoring, the company rallied together like never before

5 min read

Inside the 3G Project

The fact that nothing happened here was the true win.

Aaron Miller, Vice President, ADT’s Product Management and Customer Experience Strategy

Approximately 6 million customers trust ADT to keep watch over their homes and families every second of every day. But in 2019, the major wireless carriers made an announcement that would impact the very ADT equipment that helps us do that.  

The carriers announced they would shut down their 3G wireless networks by the end of 2022 to build out 5G coverage. This impacted ADT customers — about 3.6 million of them — who relied on equipment that used 3G networks to communicate with our monitoring centers.  

ADT leaders determined that the best way to preserve our customers' service was to manually remove each 3G communications radio and replace it with an LTE-compatible radio. ADT had about three years of lead time to swap out communications radios in more than 3.6 million security systems.  

The size and scale of this conversion project came to touch every part of the business.  

  • Nearly two-thirds of ADT customers needed to be informed of the change.
  • Large workforce pressures due to the necessity of in-home visits. Labor production increased by 25 times the normal rate.  
  • The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 temporarily limited access to customers’ homes, reduced in-person interactions and created delays in receiving many key components.
  • ADT estimated the cost of the 3G conversion project would be up to $300 million. The total cost at project completion was $276 million.  
  1. Assess the situation and scale of the project and quickly build a cross-functional project delivery team.  
  2. Invest in IT systems and processes to ensure data integrity across all systems and customer touchpoints.  
  3. Educate and train employees who interact with customers to ensure no interaction is a missed opportunity to convert a customer.  
  4. Implement a “While You Are There” program to ensure no conversion opportunity is missed.  
  5. Start a customer education and aggressive awareness campaign early and via multiple communication methods and channels.  
  6. Hire and train additional frontline employees.  
  7. Create a playbook/reference guide for future projects of this scale.

ADT completed its 3G conversion project in 2023. The mission's success is attributed to strong leadership, the dedication and determination of our frontline workers, collaboration and communication, as well as the ability to recognize obstacles and pivot quickly to creative solutions.  

Click on the video to hear from the ADT leaders who have dedicated years of their careers to making this project a success. And hear why all of them said they would do it again.

One of the things that really helped move the needle when it came to getting customers to respond was simplifying our communication.

Primo Jacobo, Senior Manager, Customer Experience Strategy

ADT contacted every impacted customer — all 3.6 million of them — to inform them of the change and schedule an appointment. For many customers, it took several communication attempts to connect. ADT proactively contacted customers via phone calls, emails, text messages, at-home visits and certified mail. The hardest-to-reach customers received more than 15 communications from ADT notifying them of the 3G conversion impact on their security system.  


Simple and direct messaging garnered a higher response rate. One of the most successful communications campaigns was the simplest. It was an email titled “Your ADT System Requires Service”. The response rate was almost triple that of previous communications, temporarily overwhelming the call center. Going forward, the message was sent to batches of smaller customer groups to drive demand in a sustainable way over the three-year timeline and allowing ADT to best manage personnel and budgetary resources.


“I've never encountered, in 35 years, a problem as daunting as that one.”

Don Young, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer

The timeline was out of ADT’s hands as the wireless network carriers determined when they would shut down their 3G networks. In 2019, a taskforce of key leaders from across the company was created. They met, at minimum, weekly to share information, warn of potential obstacles and give progress reports. As the radio replacement project was implemented, the group expanded to include representatives from all areas of the company.  

A hiring initiative began, targeting call center specialists and installation technicians. When there was still a labor gap, two third-party subcontractor firms were engaged to complete in-home 3G system replacements.  

The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily paused in-home work as safety protocols were established and communicated to customers. As an alternative to in-home installations by a technician, ADT acquired tech startup CellBounce at the end of 2020. CellBounce allowed customers to self-upgrade the cellular technology their security system relied on, creating additional opportunities to convert customers.  

Internally, ADT’s IT team created a companywide 3G dashboard that allowed multiple departments to identify the customers with 3G-reliant security systems. The team also developed a datamart that ensured the CRM and any tools used in customer interactions always had the current cellular technology. These systems and tools ensured that any 3G customer who contacted ADT was educated about the need to upgrade and encouraged to schedule an appointment.  

Additionally, integrating this data into our existing tools allowed field technicians to see the other ADT customers living near a service call who needed to be upgraded. Technicians would knock first, and if there was no answer, leave a door hanger to prompt the customer to contact ADT to schedule an upgrade visit.  

At the peak of the installation process, ADT was performing 10,000 in-person radio swaps a day, totaling more than 200,000 per month.  


A companywide dashboard and integrated data allowed frontline operations and sales teams to be proactive in their efforts. These technologies systematically reminded employees to crosscheck customers to see if they required a 3G upgrade during an unrelated service call or while they were at a neighbor’s home. This helped prevent additional truck rolls to homes, reduced technician overtime and ensured every customer was addressed.  


I think of it like landing on the moon. There’s a lot of coordination, teamwork, preparation, planning. But there has to be flawless execution in order for all that to happen.

Helton de Oliveira, Senior Director, Field Operations

When the wireless carriers shut down their 3G networks, ADT customers didn’t notice a difference. Project leaders attributed the success to three key areas:  

  • Empowerment: ADT employees influenced key decisions  
  • Accountability: Buy-in at all levels of the company, with a clear commitment to and understanding of the goal  
  • Innovation: Real-time reporting to track progress  

ADT compiled key learnings into a playbook to better position itself for future projects of all sizes and levels of impact. It breaks down the 3G conversion project into three phases:  

  • Phase 1: Data management and inbound proactive effort for organic volume  
  • Phase 2: Third-party utilization, enhanced proactive effort and improved scheduling  
  • Phase 3: Focus on last mile and “hard to get” customers  

Post-project feedback showed areas of opportunity:

  • Record contacts: Improved data management is needed to provide a repository of customer contact attempts.  
  • Start even earlier: A proactive effort to communicate with “hard to get” customers would be more successful if started earlier in the process.  

The 3G conversion project forever changed ADT’s business operations as we implemented the processes built to solve the 3G problem into our daily work. Improved data management systems record customer interactions. Enhanced digital engagement with customers through text messages and email campaigns, and customer self-service appointment scheduling are now commonplace tools.  

The way we came together and solved that problem together – it just feels like almost anything can be thrown our way.

Don Young, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer

It was ADT against this timeline that was looming. We were going to be successful because we didn't have a choice but to be successful.

Tiffany Galarza, Senior Director, Telecommunications

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