It’s time to have a heart to heart about 3G wireless. It’s over! And, it’s not you – it’s them. 3G services are sunsetting in the near term, and it means you need to start planning for what’s next. Mobile network carriers will be shutting off the cellular infrastructure required to operate communication devices based on 3G wireless technology, including UMTS, HSPA, and EVDO. While it may seem like 3G is old technology, in reality, is it’s still widely used. Analysts tell us that there are more than 80 million existing 3G devices using networks in North America alone. (Source: RCRwireless). To avoid gaps in service, companies should evaluate and replace old devices – cell phones, routers, GPS devices, and IoT equipment – before shutdowns take effect.
While sunset dates vary, it’s clear the end is upon us. Verizon’s anticipated sunset date is December 31, 2019, meaning by that time, all devices connected to a Verizon mobile network must be capable of running on 4G LTE. AT&T, on the other hand, hasn’t released concrete plans, but most insiders anticipate the sunset of its 2G and 3G LTE services and network by 2022 in the US. (Source: Techblog). Here’s information about shutdown schedules for Sprint and T-Mobile.
So why are operators pushing out 3G networks? In a word: necessity. Users are demanding more and more bandwidth and faster speeds to stream video and other high-bandwidth applications on mobile devices and in branch offices, or temporary locations. Increasing demands are pushing wireless infrastructure and these networks past their limits. By mandating customers exit 3G networks, carriers can free up wireless frequencies, giving them the ability to add more capacity on LTE networks. Carriers can repurpose the 3G spectrum for alternatives – including faster and more efficient 4G LTE, and eventually 5G services.
It is also more cost-effective to operate LTE networks, compared to 2G or 3G networks, because more devices can share the available spectrum. It’s important to point out that even before officially shutting down 3G services, network operators may also regionally tune their networks. Making these tweaks means that some connected devices may lose connectivity even ahead of ‘official’ 3G sunset dates.
What should you do?
As 3G services start fading out the way of cable TV services, what should you do? How can you help customers figure out their best upgrade path to newer solutions? As a technology partner, you should start by focusing on customers’ long-term transition plans, and by offering migration strategies to eliminate possible gaps in wireless services. Finally, making moves today you can get users on a viable path to 5G adoption. Let’s explore best practices and migration options for staying well ahead of 3G sunsetting.
- Consider replacing devices and routers with upgraded technology – Partners should ask the right questions and look at connectivity requirements and locations before selecting 4G LTE-enabled routers, modems, and support for IoT. Also, do customers need mobile connectivity primarily? Or do they need reliable wireless for temporary locations or branch offices? These are all considerations you can walk through with customers.
- Evaluate bonded 4G LTE options – In many cases, 4G LTE and bonded 4G LTE services are ideal replacements for 3G. Bonding 4G LTE links from several mobile providers can provide maximum reliability and sufficient bandwidth, even for today’s bandwidth-hungry apps. With download speeds of 100 Mbps and 50 Mbps upstream speeds, 4G LTE can support web and video conferencing solutions, Unified Communication (UC), and VoIP applications.
- Don’t wait for 5G before making a move – While 5G services promise connection speeds that are 20 X faster than 4G, it’s going to take years before 5G is fully operational. The good news, however, is that 4G LTE technology will serve as the backbone for 5G services, while carriers continue developing these next-gen mobile solutions. So making a move today and implementing 4G LTE equipment isn’t a wasted investment. Instead, it’s a stepping stone that can help companies meet business-critical needs while also laying down the foundation for the digital enterprise and 5G down the road.
Your future looks bright!
With 3G sunsetting on the horizon, it’s time to get serious about the next chapter. You have a tremendous opportunity to help customers avoid gaps in service by acting now and upgrading outdated 3G equipment to LTE-capable phone and IoT devices, routers, and modems. If you want help talking with customers about transition plans, migration strategies, and the impending shutdown of 3G network services, talk to Broad Sky Networks! We offer complete bonded 4G LTE services and other custom wireless solutions your customers will love. Act now!