We’ve been discussing how 3G cellular networks (CDMA and HSPA) will soon follow the path of the 2G GPRS platform that was shut down in the U.S. as of December 2016. Some carriers will stop supporting 3G as early as end of 2019. The message is clear, however, that 3G will transition to legacy status in the near future. What does this change mean for your IoT-based systems?
Your 3G telematics devices must be replaced by 4G LTE capable hardware. The sunsetting of these legacy networks is in motion and they are even starting to operate in a degraded state. Therefore, the day to plan for a migration to 4G LTE is now. Here are five steps to help you plan for your systems update whether you decide to go all in or use a more phased approach.
Before you determine where to go, you need to know your current status. Start your assessment by considering the answers to these suggested questions. How many devices are you managing? How many are still using 3G CDMA or HSPA technology? Are any segments of your device portfolio currently scheduled for phase-out, or are there purchase orders being drawn up for additional units? Knowing your current inventory, what networks they’re on and how they fit into your overall operations systems is a necessary starting point. Having a map of planned upgrades is also helpful.
The next step is to understand and determine what needs to happen and when. An important thing to consider is that LTE is a futureproof deployment because any 3G devices added now as a stopgap will have a reduced useful life. It could easily cost more if those devices need to be replaced in the field. Finding a more cost-effective solution may offset some of your transition costs as well as reducing operating expenses.
Once you understand your current situation and upcoming needs, you can design the solutions and timing. The goal should be to balance performance and cost while also keeping communications flowing between your new and legacy systems.
One important benefit of migrating early is that there is still time to plan for a phased rollout regardless of whether you are completing smaller updates or a complete overhaul. You don’t need to be an early adopter, but waiting until a few months before a deadline is sure to increase your costs (and stress level). Many companies plan to migrate devices in batches. This approach offers the opportunity to wait until the devices in each batch are tested and running before moving on to the next group. The phased method can lower risk and help avoid service interruptions.
Working with an experienced and knowledgeable partner can be key to both planning and implementing the migration of your device portfolio to LTE. It allows your company to tap into outside resources so your team can support your current operations while upgrading and scaling it. The service provider should have deep and broad experience: designing and building hardware; programming software; strong relationships with multiple carriers; and, expertise in tailoring solutions.
CalAmp’s Professional Services team can provide support at any of or all these stages because the staff has industry-recognized expertise and experience in telematics and machine-to-machine communications. To learn more about how this group can help your operations make the migration to LTE, visit our Professional Services page here.