November 3, 2021

By: Don Durm, Vice President, Customer Solutions, PLM Fleet, LLC

Chances are, you likely aren’t aware of the looming 3G sunset, which will be impacting fleets still operating devices on 3G networks.  So why should you be concerned? 

You’ve probably heard about 5G (the “G” stands for “generation”) of cellular services promising faster data connectivity, not only for smartphones but for all kinds of connected devices, including electronic logging devices and other internet-connected devices used by trucks. Wireless carriers are phasing out their 3G networks to accommodate higher data usage for 4G and 5G networks.
 
You might not know it, but the devices on your trucks could be using older 3G and even 2G generations of the cellular network, which are about to be “sunset.” That means as cellular carriers make the switch to 4G and 5G, devices that depend on those older networks will stop working. The sunset date varies by region and carrier but will be completed by 2022.

Though many smartphones can connect to multiple networks, such as transitioning between 3G and 4G service depending on location and network availability, most telematics devices will need an upgrade that runs only on 3G.  Therefore,  the in-cab technology in your fleets like electronic logging devicesdash cams, and asset trackers like refrigerated fleet telematics will need to be upgraded to avoid service interruptions and remain in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.  If you don’t update your devices in time, you could leave your fleet and business non-compliant and at-risk resulting in fines.

When Will This Happen?
It depends on the carrier for your device, and you might have multiple devices with different carriers.  Major wireless carriers have announced plans to shut down their 3G networks in 2022.
 
Sunset Dates by Carrier

  • T-Mobile: July 2022
  • Sprint: April 2022
  • AT&T: February 2022
  • Verizon: December 2022
We are hearing that some users may already be noticing connectivity issues with their 3G in-cab technology because cellular carriers have already scaled back on the maintenance of 3G networks.

How to Prepare for the 3G Sunset
First, confirm if you are currently using any old versions of device technology in your fleet that won’t work once 3G is shut down.  If you don’t know, reach out to your technology provider, and make sure you are compatible with the 4G LTE network or beyond.  Since the upgrade process is more complicated and time-consuming than it sounds, make sure to do so soon.
 
Second, make sure to steps to migrate away from 3G networks specifically:
  • Take inventory of your devices.
  • Select new units.
  • Schedule times for trucks/trailers to be taken out of service and available for necessary device installs.  Shutting down the entire fleet for installation is not an option for most fleet managers.  Upgrades will need to be accomplished by working with service providers for a managed installation. 
 
What challenges could I incur with the 3G Sunset?
  • Limited devices in inventory since many fleets will need to be upgraded to 4G/5G.
  • Delays with device providers experiencing the ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage plaguing electronics manufacturing.
  • Delays in service providers working to install new devices as labor in the industry continue to lag behind the needs.
You can access slides from the recent webinar on this topic here.
 

Questions? Please submit questions regarding the 3G Sunset using the form below. Someone will get back to you shortly.

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