3G Sunsets are Truly Underway

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2Q 2022 | IN-6566

This insight looks to highlight 3G sunsets and what that means for device users but also a look into what this means for the newer generations of cellular connectivity.

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US 3G Network Closures: Where are MNOs at?


It is well established that 2G and 3G network sunsets are taking place to open up more available spectrum for the newer generations of cellular technology. Many US Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have set clear dates on when they intend to close their 3G networks if they haven’t already done so.

All US MNOs already have already closed their 2G networks , with Verizon no longer having a 3G network offering for the Internet of Things (IoT). AT&T set their 3G sunset date as the end of February 2022, T-Mobile at the beginning of July 2022, and Verizon being the last to sunset their 3G network with their sunset date due at the end of 2022.

A New Dawn for Next-Gen LPWA-LTE as the Sun Sets on 2G and 3G


It is no surprise that MNOs in Asia, more so China, have led the way in the closures of 2G and 3G networks with the increasing demand for Narrowband (NB)-IoT, with many other Asian MNOs following suit. Many sunset closures took place as early as 2017 for the 2G networks, however 3G sunset dates are being set as late as 2025. Though it is logical with the oldest being closed down first, it is the complete opposite for MNOs in other regions, such as Europe, where many MNOs are shutting down their 3G networks prior to their 2G networks.

Though many MNOs have announced a date in which their network closures are due to take place, there are many that haven’t announced a single thing. This means that many businesses are left dangling, as they are unable to make sufficient plans to change their connectivity options without knowing a timeline. Though it may be an easier fix to upgrade connectivity hardware to support 4G connectivity as a minimum, 2G and 3G hardware is still cheaper, and does plentiful for the requirements for many IoT solutions.

What Can Be Done to Help?


As more 5G deployments take place, it is no surprise that older technology networks are being shut down. This does mean, however, for many businesses decisions regarding their connectivity options are going to have to be considered. Where devices have connectivity hardware built in, it will not be a simple un-plug and re-plug and play for solution providers to solve the connectivity issue.

While 2G and 3G networks are still available and in use, it must be noted that the cost of hardware suited to these networks is cheaper than 4G and 5G hardware. Until this is their final cellular connectivity option, increasing expenditure on hardware will either minimize profitability capabilities nor cause for a huge price increase for their customers. This could cause for loss of profitability due to customers leaving their service, if their solution is service based, or looking elsewhere for cheaper hardware that offer similar capabilities.

Introducing a multi-network SIM could be seen as an alternative for those looking to move past the network sunsets moving forward. A multi-network SIM will enable devices to remain connected as long as there is a 2G or 3G network available and in existence. This is only a short-term fix as once there is no 2G and 3G networks due to the closures, unless the SIM can migrate to 4G and 5G networks, the SIM will inevitably be useless. It does mean however that businesses are able to continue their operations with confidence that their services will not be disrupted, enabling them to save money by only replacing equipment where required,  i.e., when they have a clearer understanding of the network sunsets.



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