Protected: 2G/3G Sunset Overview

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

How will 3G network sunset in the USA impact IoT connectivity?

For IoT businesses in the United States, 3G networks are already shutting down. AT&T switched off their network on February 22nd. The other US networks have been decommissioning their services, and by the end of 2022, Verizon will terminate its last remaining CDMA capacity. Knowing about these network changes gives businesses a chance to take appropriate action.

Businesses should pay particular attention to their modules and how they will react to removing 3G services. Some modules might not work on LTE networks. These modules are used on US-based 3G UMTS providers with 4G, LTE support primarily for bands 2, 4, 12 (FDD) and 2, 4, 5 (WCDMA).

For example, AT&T has let module manufacturers know about their 3G sunset and how to maintain connectivity. The 3G and LTE modules have a setting [Ue_Usage_Setting], which tells the network if the module is voice or data-centric. Typically, if your device does not support voice services, this setting must be “Data-Centric” to continue using LTE data services after the 3G sunset.

Some modules may be set to “Voice Centric,” limiting LTE connectivity. The general approach recommended by operators and manufacturers is to modify [Ue_Usage_Setting] from “Voice Centric” to “Data-Centric”.

One example is the Quectel EC2x series which establishes a “Voice Centric” connection with some suppliers’ SIMs. We tested the JT IoT SIM in a Quectel EC2x module with specific devices, and the connection established is “Data-Centric”.

This illustrates the issue with a specific module, but many other modules and manufacturers may be similar. Therefore, we recommend contacting your module manufacturer to ensure continued connectivity after 3G sunsets.

The end of 2G/3G isn’t without opportunities.

While IoT businesses should be concerned and fast-acting regarding the sunsetting of 2G/3G, the situation isn’t wholly without opportunities. Newer 4G/5G, LPWAN connectivity options will likely become more affordable and available, making them more accessible to various IoT businesses.

Additionally, businesses can make critical progress while upgrading to these newer networks. SIM cards, devices, network profiles, and more can be upgraded and future-proofed.

As ever, Velos IoT is here to help you find the best-uninterrupted service and prepare for new networks and connectivity options. Our Connect LPWA solution would be a great affordable alternative for your massive IoT deployment, especially if you need to maximise your device’s lifetime with extended battery life. Contact our IoT experts if you are interested in knowing more.