As 5G and LPWAN technologies evolve, we see more and more global telecommunications providers phasing out 2G and 3G networks. Closing down older networks will free up space for the 5G implementation, among other things. Many of the 2G and 3G networks are expected to be phased out by 2025.
Phasing out 2G and 3G networks, why now?
There has been some delay in shutting down 2G and 3G networks due to the number of IoT devices using these services. The networks are still in high demand due to their accessibility, cost-effectiveness and reliable worldwide coverage. It is still ideal for applications with small data packets with a low transmission frequency (such as metering from smart meters).
The IoT industry is now looking to next-generation LTE technologies such as LTE M and NB-IOT as a replacement for 2G and 3G. Stop investing in devices that depend on 2G or 3G networks. Start orienting as soon as possible which products are upgradable for 4G, 5G or LPWAN. There is still time to avoid a stressful and expensive emergency switchover. A well-planned migration for a small to medium deployment can take up to 12-24 months.
How do I prepare for this 2G/3G shutdown?
The first step is to perform a thorough audit so that you know exactly which network each device is using as primary and backup. Be aware of 3G acronyms such as “Next G”, “GPRS” “UMTS” “W-CDMA” and “HSPA/HSPA+/HSDPA”. If your hardware relies on any of these technologies, they will no longer be operational once a 3G phase-out has occurred.
The next step is to look at your current requirements and future scalability. How could you optimize your existing system? What needs to change to protect your organization? In this case, you would ideally consider moving to the following networks depending on your data and speed requirements: “LTE / LTE-A / LTE-A Pro” “4G / 4GX / 4GPlus” “LTE-M / Cat-M1 (LPWAN technology)” “NB-IoT / NB1 (LPWAN technology)” “5G/5G NR”.
These technologies support ‘new’ networks and offer your devices a longer lifespan.
Once this is known, the orientation on finding future-proof hardware begins. What are your options if a network or other technology changes?