Hello OnStar? OnStar? Are You There?

If you're one of the millions of Americans who have an OnStar equipped vehicle purchased prior to 2002 — or in some cases, as late as 2005 — then come next week, you'll be pushing that little button in vain.

The U.S. is abandoning the analog cellular network on February 18, 2008, a decision that has been known since 2002. For most people with a working cell phone, it won't be any problem at all, because most recently manufactured handsets are fully compatible with the digital networks that will take over completely in February. However, an unreported number of OnStar users will lose their service, as the systems installed in their cars use the analog spectrum, and won't be functional after the shutdown. According to General Motors, all affected customers have been notified, so if you haven't heard from GM, you're probably safe.

Even more troubling than the soon-to-become-useless OnStar buttons is the news that some 400,000 home alarm systems also use analog wireless to connect them to the system's monitoring center, and that many small alarm companies seem to be in complete denial about the upcoming shutdown.

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