The 3G Sunset Paves the Way for IoT Devices That Do More

  • January 14, 2021
  • Kinana Hussain
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Cell tower at sunset For TSPs and enterprises, the 3G sunset is an opportunity to do more with telematics devices. (Credit: Crippe/iStock)

Time is running out to plan for the 3G sunset. Before you know it, and perhaps unexpectedly, telematics devices in the United States that rely on a 3G cellular network will stop working.

Instead of an inconvenience, the switch from 3G to 4G LTE is an opportunity, a chance for telematics service providers (TSPs) to offer devices with more capabilities. Businesses that rely on telematics devices get more bang for their technology buck with 4G devices that can take operations to next-level efficiency, safety and improved decision making by leveraging new features and services enabled through quicker data transmissions.

When is the 3G sunset?

The 3G sunset dates depend on the cellular network and also the area of the country. Different zip codes in the U.S. will shut down at different times. By the end of 2022, most 3G networks in the U.S. will likely be dark. Discontinuity of network service will mean assets going dark for an extended period of time until a new telematics device can be installed, further leading to business service interruptions.

Connected intelligence companies that supply telematics devices, such as CalAmp, have relationships with multiple cellular network operators and are notified by the operators before each zip code goes dark. They can help enterprises plan their device migration.

The 4G LTE difference

The advantages of moving to 4G LTE telematics devices are clear:

  • 4G is up to 2,500 times faster than 2G
  • It’s cheaper to move data over 4G
  • Greater access to the latest in edge computing
  • Built-in security architecture means network security is stronger
  • 4G devices are future-proof, meaning they will also work on 5G, the next generation of mobile technology

What’s more exciting is that 4G paves the way for smarter telematics devices that can do more at the edge and also support new services. This adds up to increased revenue for TSPs and more ROI for enterprises.

New value for TSPs

For TSPs, the 3G sunset is an ideal moment to have deeper discussions with customers about problems they’d like to solve and functionality they’d like to gain.

A fleet customer may already have vehicle tracking devices, for instance, but they may not realize how much more they can accomplish with technology adds such as an automated intelligence video telematics solution or a vehicle risk management service such as CalAmp’s CrashBoxx®, or the control they can gain from data analytics enabled by a Dacit™, CalAmp’s telematics platform that allows for more sophisticated fleet management and driver behavior monitoring.

Fleet and construction customers might also benefit from peripherals such as a mobile data terminal that can communicate with connected products in a vehicle and, via cellular connection, telematics applications in the cloud.

With products and services like these, fleet operations become safer and more efficient, and the TSP becomes a more valuable partner.

Increased efficiency for enterprises

4G LTE telematics devices with edge processing let enterprises get more out of their vehicles and assets. In addition to adding services like video telematics and crash detection, businesses can leverage telematics devices equipped with Bluetooth low energy (BLE) connectivity to connect multiple BLE tags for asset tracking.

Low-cost BLE proximity sensor tags can be placed on equipment, high-value tools and cargo and paired with a vehicle’s telematics unit. If an asset strays from the telematics device, the operator will receive an alert. With 4G, dozens of tags can be paired with a single telematics device. Broadband connection to a cloud-based fleet management system lets managers see the location of each tagged item in near real-time.

New data insights courtesy of 4G-enabled devices and services can help businesses improve their operations in ways they may never have imagined. Would being able to identify your riskiest drivers and reconstruct crashes lower costs and improve safety? What about being able to know whether the right tools and equipment are on the right truck at the right jobsite? 4G LTE makes these and other benefits possible.

Device migration planning

For large enterprises, the big challenges of migrating a telematics device portfolio to 4G are logistical: How do you keep track of when the 3G sunset is happening on which networks and in which areas? How do you identify how many devices you need to replace and with which compatible replacement devices?

CalAmp enterprise customers can contact their sales representative for help with planning and executing their device upgrades.

Whether you’re a TSP or an enterprise, the 3G sunset is an opportunity to get more from telematics while future-proofing your devices. The move from 3G to 4G is an invitation to embrace smarter edge computing devices and cloud-based services that can help TSPs expand their business and help enterprises operate theirs more efficiently.

Contact your CalAmp sales representative for help identifying compatible replacement devices and leveraging the new services they enable.

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