By Tanya Seda, Chief Strategy Officer, Network Control
With everything that has been going on in 2020, you’re to be forgiven if the topic of 3G’s end of life isn’t at the top of your strategic to do list. But here we are at the midpoint of 2020, and we are here to remind you that coming up with a strategy for the retirement of 2G/3G networks should be on planning radar. With some services already terminated and others scheduled (see later in our blog) you’ll want to make sure you determine how this will affect your Internet of Things (IoT) devices network.
While dates vary a bit, most of the carriers in the US are shutting down all their 3G networks to provide better service to their customers and for LTE. All are shutting down their 2G networks. Here’s a useful list based on the best-known information at hand (note that Verizon has already shut down 3G):
Many of our customers have asked why the telecom companies are shutting down their 2G and 3G networks? The answer is simple: to make way for their 5G deployments. With increasing 4G proliferation and 5G already being rolled out in some regions, the carriers’ focus has been to move away from GSM, CDMA and UMTS networks to free up resources for the new technologies. This move away from the legacy technologies is a huge transition for several of the IoT and M2M companies because 2G and 3G networks are still deployed in virtually all companies’ device footprints for these devices. Based on industry data, top IoT deployments in the enterprise are:
In other words, they’re a forgotten but vital part of communications at the very heart of so many companies’ business functions. Unfortunately, the 2G and 3G networks are still essential for IoT and M2M devices because of their lower equipment and operation costs compared to 4G networks. Considering future deployments and with upcoming retirement schedules, it’s not feasible to lock your devices into only 2G or 3G, and the burden is on the industry to quickly evolve and implement modules that can support modern cellular technologies.
When considering your IoT roadmap it’s important to think about whether you’re going to stick with 2G or 3G until the last possible moment or to start the migration process now to 4G, 5G, and LTE technologies. We recommend the latter process as it helps spread cost, logistics, and risk over a longer timeline.
Further, given everything else you’re most likely dealing with, it makes more sense to partner with a professional TEM provider to manage 2G/3G network retirements along with an in-depth migration plan. That plan will be key to avoid the very real risk of an IoT communication blackout. A comprehensive planning process will look for software, routers, and planning services to assist with the changes of migrating to LTE and 5G and the phase-out of their existing 2G & 3G devices in an orderly, cost-effective way—without disrupting your business. Do you know where your IoT devices are deployed and what network they are running on?