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Fleets Must Act Now in Light of the Looming 3G Sunset

  • November 09, 2021
  • Kinana Hussain
  • Reading Time: 2 minutes
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asphalt highways and sun set scene It’s the end of the road for 3G networks. Organizations that don’t upgrade their telematics devices now will pay the price. (Credit: suriyasilsaksom/iStock)

The 3G sunset is real, and it’s happening soon. AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network in February 2022, Sprint (now T-Mobile) in January 2022, T-Mobile in July 2022 and Verizon on December 31, 2022, as of this writing.

For cellular network customers who don’t upgrade to 4G LTE telematics devices in time, whether due to logistical challenges posed by the pandemic or the lack of device availability caused by the global semiconductor shortage, the consequences of assets going dark will be hard felt.

Some burglar alarm systems and even ankle bracelets may stop working, as the writer of a recent Bloomberg article noted. As for fleets that rely on IoT solutions, losing the visibility that telematics devices provide may have significant safety ramifications and also cause operational disruptions that impact customer service and the bottom line.

Once the 3G networks go dark, any device that relies on a 3G cellular connection will stop reporting, including telematics gateways installed in trucks, trailers and warehouses. So will the devices that talk to those gateways, including smart proximity tags used to track tools (for service fleets) and cargo.

While GPS trackers will continue to work because they receive signals via satellite, organizations that use fleet management software to track their assets will nevertheless lose visibility into the location of those assets, since GPS devices send data to cloud platforms via cellular connection.

Transportation fleets reliant on 3G willno longer know where their trucks or trailers are, or what’s in the trailers, and deliveries could be impacted. 3G ELD devices will stop transmitting data, putting companies out of compliance with ELD mandates and at risk of fines. Tire temperature monitoring systems on smart trailers will no longer send alerts if the 3G gateways that report the data aren’t upgraded.

Fleets that transport critical cargo, including perishable food and pharmaceuticals, will lose the data from smart environment-sensing tags that report on environmental conditions including temperature and humidity, potentially putting these sensitive shipments at risk and creating cold chain compliance issues for owners.

School bus fleets thatutilize student ridership and contact tracing solutions will lose access to ridership data used for COVID 19 contact tracing if the 3G gateway isn’t updated.

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade to 4G, including faster broadband speeds, improved network security and carrier-agnostic devices that can do more at the edge, helping fleets enhance safety and productivity, such as through video telematics. But the most pressing one right now is the simple continuity of data collection and transmission.

Once telematics devices go dark, so does all asset monitoring and management that relies on 3G. Even before the cellular carriers shut down their networks completely, service may become spotty.

Although CalAmp and other telematics device providers have backlogs that extend into 2022, it’s essential to put your device orders in now if you haven’t done so already. For some organizations, upgrading an entire portfolio of devices in time for the AT&T shutdown in February may be difficult or even impossible, but T-Mobile and Verizon customers may still have time to order new devices and perform the installation before their devices stop functioning. 

Please contact your account representative or visit our contact us page to learn about the 4G device that best meets your needs.