Since the birth of the first analog cellular network in 1979, the digital networks that replaced them have continued to grow and evolve, making room for new technologies. United States mobile carriers are now moving to replace old 2G and 3G infrastructures with newly deployed Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, networks. Many carriers have already sunset 2G networks and are now beginning to roll out the sunset of 3G, affecting companies and individuals all across the United States. It is essential to understand how these ongoing and upcoming changes may affect you and your business as well as the importance of getting in front of the sunset to avoid potential disruptions for your customers.
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What is Network Sunsetting and Why Are Carriers Doing This?
Simply put, sunsetting a mobile or cellular network means that the network operator shuts off the infrastructure required to operate the communication devices on the network’s technology. Think of it as turning off your home wi-fi on a much larger scale. Once it’s turned off, devices can no longer draw a connection to the network.
Network operators are sunsetting old infrastructure to make room for the new 4G and 5G LTE networks. There are limited amounts of spectrum (radio frequencies allocated to mobile networks) available for network operators. In order to maintain desired bandwidth in newly developed networks, operators must repurpose their spectrum to the new technologies. Additionally, it is more cost effective for operators to run LTE networks rather than 2G and 3G networks because the LTE network allows more devices to share the available spectrum.
How Does This Affect Customers and End Users?
The network sunset impacts any 2G or 3G powered equipment, including smart devices, no matter the vendor or manufacturer. For those that own 2G IoT (Internet of Things) devices, you have already seen the degradation in coverage. For those with 3G hardware currently implemented in your devices, it is important to note that prior to the official sunset dates, network operators (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile) may begin to re-purpose spectrum to LTE networks resulting in loss of connection. Other devices affected, but often overlooked are your onsite emergency phones in places like your elevators, stairwells, parking garages and at poolside in multifamily communities.
For Kings III customers with our all-inclusive turnkey service, we are currently underway on our extensive equipment replacement project, ensuring customers have 4G equipment ahead of the sunset. The equipment upgrade to 4G/LTE is included in your turnkey service agreement. This means no hassle or additional cost to you.
How Are We Approaching Equipment Replacement?
Glad you asked. Our technicians are currently working these upgrades into existing service calls, meaning if we’re scheduled to be onsite for any other reason, we will upgrade your equipment while there. For customers who have no current service need, we are scheduling special trips to your property solely to replace the equipment to ensure you’re taken care of pre-sunset. We very much appreciate your teams being available and flexible in helping us to schedule our site visit in a timely manner. Our goal is to get you squared away and avoid any surprise visits (which aren’t fun for any of us). The ability to connect quickly and secure an appointment helps us all.
If you are a current Kings III Dealer, it’s important to work with us to get your customers 3G equipment replaced in a timely manner. As we approach the final sunset dates, the demand for 4G/LTE products will increase, which is why we recommend you act sooner rather than later.
Why Should Moving to 4G/LTE be a Priority?
It’s important to act quickly and make the transition to 4G/LTE for all emergency related communications before the sunset begins to affect your region. As you can imagine, a telecom sunset isn’t as simple as flipping the off-switch. Instead, operators will begin re-purposing spectrum in low usage areas as they gradually work towards their full sunset dates. This means the reliability of the 3G network will begin to degrade before it’s shut off for good. Think of it like an abandoned road: at first you may still have access to it, but as time goes on, the lack of maintenance makes the road impossible to use. While this sunset may seem overwhelming for some, there is good news – 4G LTE networks are capable of faster connection times, faster data transmissions, and increased reliability during emergencies or disasters. Moving quickly to transition is not only saving you the potential disruption to your services, it’s putting your device and your property on a superior network that gives your equipment longevity.
When Are The Final Sunset Dates?
As we mentioned, the network sunsetting is a gradual process, but there are final shutdown dates you should be aware of. AT&T has already turned off their 2G network and halted 3G activation’s with other carriers beginning to follow suit.