Prepare for Change as 2G and 3G Networks Sunset in the U.S.

Commercial fleets face a big change in 2021 as carriers move to sunset 2G and 3G and upgrade every system to 4G. Preparation will be key for fleet managers who want to continue operations without disruption.

Most call the event the “3G sunset,” which refers to the period that wireless carriers shut off 3G services. At that time, all devices not compatible with 4G or higher will no longer receive cellular service.

For those who want to make the change to 4G before the sunset period, EnVue Telematics offers a variety of solutions.

“Now’s the time to get ahead of the curve on the switch to 4G,” said Dan Shive, Director of Client Engagement and Account Management. “We’re ready to provide our clients with information about what this means to them, why the upgrades are happening and how to plan to make the switch.”

What 3G Sunset Means For Fleets

Carriers have planned the switch to 4G (and eventually 5G) for years. By technology standards, carrier have used 2G and 3G for an exceptionally long time. Carriers originally launched 2G in 1995 and 3G in 2005. They’ve been shutting down 2G for years, including AT&T in 2016.

Most people already have upgraded to 3G for their personal cell phone use.  But many fleets across the country still use 3G and even 2G service. It’s critical that fleet managers evaluate which vehicles will get impacted by the change and what steps they need to take.

The first step is evaluating where things stand. For example, it’s a smart move to make a complete inventory of what type of device still uses 3G, including its brand, location and size. Establishing the current situation will help managers create a transition plan to a new system in a systematic way, such as upgrading devices by location or type of device.

It’s also important to ensure that all the current data will not get lost with the transition. Companies should archive all data, most likely with a cloud-based solution. It’s also important to set up a schedule so that the manager knows in advance that a vehicle will be out of service (installation can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).

Timetable for the 3G Sunset

Carriers plan to complete the 3G sunset by the end of 2022, but some already have started to phase out the system. Each carrier has its own plan. For example, AT&T plans to keep 3G through the end of 2021. But other carriers, including T-Mobile and Verizon, plan to shut down at the beginning of the year.

The sunset actually started in 2019 with carriers such as AT&T and Sprint no longer allowing any 3G activations. Scheduled dates for shutdowns are constantly being updated, but at the time of writing dates are:

  • Verizon 3G networks, Dec. 31, 2022
  • T-Mobile 3G networks, Dec. 31, 2022
  • Rogers 2G and 3G networks, March 31, 2021
  • AT&T 3G networks, February 2022

By making a plan now and consulting with telematics professionals, fleet managers can smoothly make the transition to 4G. But the time to act is now.

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