As wireless companies continue to improve cellular networks with 4G LTE and 5G, they are beginning to phase out legacy 2G and 3G networks. This allows the companies to free up spectrum resources for newer, more efficient cellular technology. Although more efficient and faster cellular networks may seem good, these changes can cause a lot of problems for existing IoT deployments. With the close down of 3G networks companies with IoT deployments are now asking if their devices will stop working.
When a network such as 3G is no longer available it can affect IoT deployments using older technology. Any device manufactured with only 3G capability will not function after cellular carriers shutdown the network. Although, keep in mind that the shutdown may be a gradual phase out process, not an immediate switch off. As the operators stop maintaining 3G, the service will slowly diminish and become inoperative.
How will this affect IoT deployments?
As 3G technology is slowly shutdown, coverage may start to decrease across areas that were previously covered. If any IoT device, such as wireless gateways or GPS devices are dependent on 3G technology they could potentially stop working any time after the carrier’s shutdown date. This can cause major issues in your IoT deployment if action is not taken soon.
When will 3G be phased out?
Each carrier has communicated their phase out dates differently. Some have sent letters directly to their customers; others have publicly announced their dates. It has also been known for these dates to change as carriers realize customers have not migrated yet. To get the most accurate date on when your 3G service will be shut down, contact your SIM provider.
It is important to know that some devices use an eSIM or a multi-carrier SIM card. If this is the case, it is still recommended you contact your SIM provider to get further information.
How to Prepare for the 3G Sunset
To prepare for the shutdown of 3G services it is important to first research and ask the following about your IoT deployment:
– What cellular technology your devices use (2G, 3G, 4G LTE, etc.)
– What cellular carrier these devices use
– When will the carrier shutdown 3G service
– Which devices need replacement, what are the costs, and do you have the budget
– Who will manage the upgrade process
– What is your timeline for hardware replacement
To ensure uninterrupted connectivity, it is best to rip and replace any obsolete devices with compatible 4G LTE or low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) IoT devices. Although before you start replacing your devices it is best to begin with an action plan. This would include an inventory check of your devices and a timeline. This way you know which devices need replacement and how soon they need to be replaced. Additionally, and most importantly, start discussing the matter with your team and contact your IoT service providers to learn more. If you are unhappy with your IoT provider, this would be a great time to source a new provider.
Support to Upgrade Your IoT Deployment
Datablaze can help future-proof your IoT deployment with a migration strategy. A team of developers and a dedicated project manager can walk through your requirements and help prepare your wireless IoT system for the 3G sunset. Contact us to speak with an IoT expert.
Important Shutdown Dates by Network
ATT: 3G shutdown by February 20221
Verizon: 3G CDMA shutdown end of 20222
T-Mobile: 3G UMTS July 1, 20227
Sprint: 3G CDMA January, 20228
Rogers: Turned off 3G 1900 MHz 6/7/2021 3
Vodaphone, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile: Most of Europe has already or plan to shutdown 3G by end of 2021. No public statement.
Telefonica Deutschland: Shutdown at end of 20216
Telia Norway: 3G has been shut down since 20194
Telstra: 3G shutdown by 20245