The 3G network shutdown is on its way. Is your fleet prepared to make the transition? The time for planning is now, since the carrier sunsetting of 3G services is already in progress. As we learned in the 2G shutdown, although the sunset dates might be different, the major carriers do eventually move forward.
Is the 3G network being phased out?
Yes, 3G is being phased out in North America and also at different places around the world. Fleet Owner reports that 3G shutdown is expected to occur in 2022.
In India, Bharti Airtel has started shutting down its 3G network, to be completed in March 2020. Taiwan was shutting down 3G in 2019 and the transition to 4G LTE there is well underway. However, these dates may be subject to change.
The 3G sunset makes way for the transition to 4G and beyond. The upgrade to 4G services will bring consumers enhanced speed and connectivity. Some advantages of 4G LTE include faster downloading and support for video chats and streaming.
What does a 3G shutdown mean for my service?
Devices that are only capable of 3G service, as opposed to 4G LTE service, will no longer work as the carriers repurpose the 3G spectrum to 4G LTE, unless there is an extension in place. Not only must the device be 4G-capable, so does the service plan that comes with it.
If you have any concerns, please talk to your Authorized Geotab Reseller.
What about my fleet’s telematics devices?
The 3G shutdown is another major service sunset in just the last five years. For organizations relying on machine-to-machine devices, such as vehicle telematics, here’s what you can do now:
- Immediately check with your telematics provider whether the devices on your fleet vehicles are 3G or 4G LTE devices.
- If your provider’s devices are on 3G networks, see what plans and services are in place to avoid disruptions to your telematics services. If you’re looking into a telematics solution for the first time, ensure that the telematics provider is selling 4G devices.
- Since this is the second major sunsetting of another network technology, consider the concept of “future-proofing.” In other words, ask your telematics provider what warranties or expandable technology they can provide.
What would future-proofing my telematics plan look like?
Future-proofing is about selecting scalable devices and telematics solutions, and/or ensuring that the device provider has a limited warranty plan in place for this exact situation. For example, Geotab helps its customers future-proof their telematics solution by offering:
Expandable technology — The most recent Geotab GO9 device, resembles previous Geotab hardware - it’s the same size and same installation process as previous devices. It also has the latest Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and is also a 4G-capable device, depending on regional availability.
ProPlus plan — The ProPlus fleet plan includes a limited lifetime device warranty in the event of a device failure and also covers the device if the network it operates on no longer provides adequate coverage, as determined by Geotab. The plan also supports advanced driver coaching and electric vehicles.
Start planning today
Don’t be caught with service disruptions by doing nothing or assuming your tracking devices won’t be affected. One major-city public transit fleet in the U.S. had service interruptions for several weeks after the 2G shutdown. The bus fleet’s schedule information system relied on 2G for data transmission.
The move away from 3G is inevitable, as networks are already looking ahead to 5G coverage. While we’re still far off from 5G on a large scale — widespread rollout is expected to arrive by 2022 — 5G is now available in Australia, the U.S., England, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and South Korea, and is being tested in many other cities. Monaco just became the first European country to have full 5G coverage.
Keeping an eye on what lies ahead and adopting flexible technology is the best strategy to help your fleet roll with the changes in technology.
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Originally published October 22, 2019. Updated May 3, 2020.