The world has begun the transition to 4G, bringing with it the sunset of 3G devices. So what does 3G cellular sunset mean? In short, it means that any cellular device that relies on a 3G network will be unusable in the near future. Why is 3G being turned down for use? It’s because network providers need to free up infrastructure in order to expand 4G LTE and 5G networks. Commercial and industrial companies must plan their migration to 4G LTE networks in order to stay ahead of the 3G sunsetting process and transition without hiccups. 

What is the time frame for 3G cellular sunset?

While there is no global cut-off date or time for 3G sunsetting, carriers have released dates on which businesses can expect 3G devices to become inoperable.

Most organizations with deployed IoT devices that leverage 3G networks have received communication from the specific carriers on when the turndown of this network will occur. Because of the fluctuation of dates in planned network sunsets, it is recommended that if you have any questions regarding turndown timelines to contact your specific carrier.

What does this mean for IoT devices?

All IoT devices that don’t hold 4G capabilities will be affected by the phasing out of 3G networks. Unfortunately, many devices that make up the IoT are reliant on 3G connectivity: anything from alarm systems to industrial machinery. Although the dates are in place, some devices are expected to lose functionality prior to the 3G sunsetting process because of carrier resource allocation. As the outdated networks are phased out, all 3G powered devices will become less reliable – causing connectivity issues until 3G connection of any kind is no longer possible.

For those organizations who have technology that works for both 4G and 3G networks, preparation is still necessary. Some IoT devices with backward compatibility are still dependent on 3G services. Most are unable to connect to a 4G tower unless settings are reconfigured. Organizations should be finding those affected and encouraging the transition to 4G capable devices. To avoid any disruptions, businesses should begin their transition around 6 months before the sunset date, which varies from carrier to carrier.

Transitioning From 3G Networks

If your IoT deployment is reliant on 3G networks you need a plan of action to transition to 4G/5G networks:

  1. Check transition dates to check when your geographical area will be affected by the 3G sunset. As a reminder: The U.S is expected to have completed the sunset process by 2022, while other countries will keep 3G networks live until 2025.
  2. Create an inventory of 3G reliant devices. 
  3. Create a time estimate to upgrade 3G-reliant devices.
  4. See if your device supports 4G LTE, Cat-M1, NB-IoT, etc. If so, update these devices and replace those that are solely reliant on 3G connectivity. 
  5. Contact SIM provider and negotiate SIM cards that meet the 4G/5G requirements.
  6. Replace and use.  

How SIMON IoT can Help

While the process of the 3G cellular sunset may seem inconvenient, carriers are limited by the spectrum available and are forced to sunset older infrastructures to free up bandwidth for more advanced, faster 4G/5G networks. The newer networks are not only faster but are able to take on more devices. They offer improved security, easier maintenance, and are more robust infrastructures. With clear advances in this technology, carriers have found compelling reasons to begin the 3G shutdown. 

For some companies, preparations may already be underway to transition away from 3G-reliant devices, and for others, this may come as a surprise. Luckily at SIMONIoT, we can provide a simple process to upgrade your company’s IoT connectivity. Whether you are a startup, medium-sized business, or large enterprise, SIMON is here to help you upgrade. No customer is too big, too small, or too complex. ​​You can order IoT SIM cards online and get connected in just a few days. You’ll instantly have access to our rates, roaming partners, APIs, support, and services. Our goal is to help your organization make a seamless transition to 4G/5G capable devices. 

Is your business ready for the 3G sunset?

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