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Let Your 2G and 3G Sunsets be the Dawn of a New IoT Connectivity Deployment

Syed Zaeem Hosain, Chief Technology Officer and Founder, Aeris Communications

As the IoT industry prepares for 2G/3G network shutdowns, it’s time to begin planning your migration to next-generation connectivity that will keep you ahead of sunsets. But without a best-practice approach, migration can be a cumbersome and costly process. With the 2G/3G network sunset underway, commercial and industrial operations must plan their migration based on 4G LTE technologies or the next generation — 5G.

So, what’s some of the things happening to drive the need for more robust networks beyond 2G/3G?  The adoption of 4G has fueled a huge appetite for data-driven services. As a result, global mobile data traffic (excluding fixed wireless) exceeded 49 exabytes (that’s 49 billion gigabytes) per month at the end of 2020. Additionally, according to research by Ericsson, the monthly total will hit 237 exabytes in 2026 and the traffic generated by the Internet of Things is expected to dwarf this total. A study by IDC also estimates that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. Collectively, they will generate 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. That’s 75 trillion gigabytes and exponential growth of connected devices.

Ensuring secure, long-term connectivity should be the primary goal of navigating network shutdowns, and eSIM technology can help you get ahead and stay ahead with future-proofed, global, cellular capability.

This blog is intended to answer questions your organization may have about evolving your 2G or 3G devices, and how and when to migrate to new technology.

In order to stay ahead of the 3G sunset, operations with deployed 2G and 3G devices should immediately consider their options and long-term needs to better prepare for the migration. 3G sun setting means that a mobile network operator (or carriers) shuts off the cellular infrastructure required to operate communication devices based on 3G (UMTS, HSPA, EVDO) technology. These 3G networks are slower and less efficient than newer 4G and 5G networks, which share the same spectrum. 4G and 5G networks based on LTE technology were built with the long-term view in mind, and therefore have a long future for decades.

Device manufacturers around the world are now building and optimizing connected devices for these newer networks, and today, many carriers are no longer activating 2G or 3G devices. Many 2G networks have already shut down and the full 3G sunsets will follow, ultimately making these devices obsolete.

Why Do Carriers Shut Down Networks?

In many cases, the desire of mobile network operators to repurpose spectrum for faster and more efficient 4G LTE and 5G devices drive the migration away from 2G and 3G networks.

It is also more cost-effective to operate an LTE or 5G network than a 2G or 3G network because more devices can share the available spectrum. In addition, new networks are not only faster, but they support many more devices, and are also far more secure, robust and easy to maintain.For those planning migration, 4G LTE and 5G devices are both viable options, and will be for many years to come. This is especially useful to consider, as 4G networks are now viable in nearly all regions worldwide, while the full 5G rollout will take a number of years to complete.

Will My 2G and 3G Devices Stop Working?

Devices based on 2G and 3G devices will stop working when these networks shut down, and some will lose functionality prior to those network sunset dates due to a number of factors including carrier resource allocation. If you have a device with 4G LTE that supports 2G/3G fallback, make sure that it has the latest device and modem firmware running.  At the time these devices and modems were built, it was assumed that 2G and 3G networks would always be available, in addition to 4G LTE. Some older firmware cannot handle the absence of 2G or 3G networks properly, which may result in these devices being unable to connect to the 4G LTE network.

To continue their migration to new networks, mobile network operators simply cannot support all older network technologies and must invest in resources to build out 4G and 5G networks.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to device capabilities, speed and bandwidth requirements and other factors — from device security to ruggedness of the device design.  It is imperative to include the full range of factors in your migration planning.

4G and 5G are already shaping the future of IoT, accelerating connected devices as they upload, download, stream and analyze data. With the right network provider, you and your end-users can enjoy a consistently positive user experience.

Experts from Aeris Communications can help your organization evaluate the technical and business requirements of your migration needs and provide a sensible roadmap designed to meet your specific goals. We can help you evaluate the benefits of both 4G LTE and 5G, including bandwidth, security requirements and other performance metrics to help you make the best decision for your enterprise.

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