Following the news of Vodafone’s 3G switch-off in Basingstoke and Plymouth. There is a growing need to use 4G and 5G as the only way to meet the ever-increasing demand for mobile broadband and data-intensive applications. In short, legacy network technologies must be rationalised; that way, they can make way for more efficient technologies.
Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye discusses the impact 2G and 3G switch off can have on IoT devices and what businesses should plan to do next.
In certain markets, operators are sunsetting (shutting down) 2G/3G networks to reallocate radio frequencies. The mobile network operator landscape (MNO) constantly changes, and the situation varies from country to country. Over the next three to five years, nearly all 2G and 3G networks will shut down across Europe, the US, and Canada.
There is an urgent need for businesses to migrate to 4G or 5G if their IoT devices currently rely on 2G or 3G for connectivity. Although, migrating an estate of thousands of devices from a 2G or 3G legacy network to a different type of network requires time and careful planning.
For IoT, sunsetting has critical implications for device design and hardware selection. Some IoT devices are expected to operate for up to 10-15 years in the field, and companies need to consider how connectivity will change over that period and adjust their strategy and IoT device design accordingly. A multi-RAT-enabled device (radio access technology) is the way forward to keep up with the evolving network landscape and ensure IoT connectivity is future-proofed.
As sunsetting issues inevitably arise, an IoT device that supports multiple RATs is extremely advantageous. For example, eSIMs allow devices to receive over-the-air updates and alternate between networks to achieve the best coverage and availability (providing the modem supports the RAT). A multi-RAT-enabled device could save companies thousands of pounds in upgrade costs in the future. This prevents devices from becoming obsolete or requiring a hardware (module/modem) update in the future to ensure they stay connected.
Meeting the demands of IoT in today’s digital economy, including the sunset dates of network operators, is a challenge. But the sooner you start, the better the opportunities to make the right choices for your business.
IoT connectivity is a complex, ever-changing landscape; no two deployments are the same. Partnerships with experts can take the pain and uncertainty out of your connectivity decisions. They can provide best practices for meeting your requirements while improving your connectivity performance before you start your migration, thus freeing valuable time to focus on business decisions and strategies.