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  • Chase Gutierrez

The 3G Sunset and what it means for Fleet Telematics

Updated: Jun 2

In the telecommunications world, all the news is on 5G. 5G is the emerging star that will bring unparalleled speeds to our network and allow us to unlock many more capabilities. However, as of today, many devices still utilize older technologies like 3G to connect to the network. This is especially true in older telematics technologies that are still on the road today.


The problem, though, is that 3G is coming to a close. What that means is that all devices solely operating on 3G technology will no longer have access to the network. For telematics devices, this means transitioning into newer, 4G LTE compatible devices will be necessary to stay running and improve speeds. There is some time, though, before 3G rides into the sunset. Here are the dates of closure for two of the big network providers:


T-Mobile – October 1, 2021

AT&T – February 22, 2022

Verizon – December 2022


How can you prepare for the 3G shutdown?


Telematics Service Providers (TSPs) should develop and execute a plan to switch their hardware solutions to ones that work with 4G LTE technology. To ensure that your fleet customers do not face any issues during this transition, acting now is the first and most important step. By acting sooner rather than later, your clients can smoothly transition and never fear being disconnected.


From there, check and verify which devices work using 3G and which ones already operate with 4G LTE technology. Once all the devices have been identified, upgrading and replacing those devices with newer, 4G telematics devices is necessary. By planning this out now, you can better pace and schedule device replacement and installation. Finally, find the perfect hardware solution for your needs. This is not only an opportunity to have more reliable and faster technology, but also to unlock more capabilities that 3G devices could never implement. For example, 4G telematics gateways such as Positioning Universal’s FT7500 allow for incorporation of AI powered dual facing dashboard cameras, a solution with countless advantages.


Top Benefits of Switching to 4G technology Telematics Devices Now


Better Performance and Capabilities


The best reason for switching to 4G technology telematics devices is the better performance and enhanced capabilities. As outlined before, 4G technology is much faster and more reliable than 3G technology. The latency—which is the amount of time that it takes for an event to go through the network and come back—is much lower in 4G technology, allowing for faster results. Just like how upgrading cell phones are necessary, upgrading mobile IOT devices are too. On top of that, the capabilities can be expanded. As shown earlier, more advanced partner hardware items can be integrated like the AI Fleet Camera Solution from Positioning Universal. Likewise, with 4G technology and speeds, the FT7500 offers an in-cab Wi-Fi hotspot to its vehicles. Your clients will enjoy more connectivity with their personal devices, helping them in ways beyond fleet safety.


Continuity of Service


As mentioned earlier, 3G is going away regardless of wanting to upgrade devices. So, it is most beneficial to plan ahead than to wait until the last minute. By acting now and following the steps in the previous section, you can ensure that your clients never miss a beat (and benefit from better performance too). Especially in the context of today, having the time to upgrade devices is critical. Because of COVID-19, the lead times for manufacturing have inevitably increased. Combine that with the global semiconductor chip shortage, and hardware production is heavily impacted. By planning now, you will have enough time to manufacture the devices before the 3G sunset.


Conclusion


Next, planning a more spaced-out process of device transition benefits customers as well. Upgrading an entire fleet’s devices all at once is a big upfront cost that most companies will not want to (or be able to) absorb. By implementing a rolling plan, the cost becomes much more manageable. This same principle applies for installation of the devices as well.

3G is soon coming to a close and riding into the sunset. Its close was inevitable, but Telematics Service Providers can use this as an opportunity to provide even better products to their clients. With about six months to a year to a half before 3G is officially shut down, acting now will allow each fleet to stay connected, and continue benefiting from the invaluable insights of telematics devices.

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