For many companies, the ongoing success of IoT relies on upgrading to newer Wireless WAN networks and edge solutions
If you’re a network admin or business owner who still uses 3G for certain aspects of enterprise networking, your newsfeed might be making you feel like there’s a big, bad cellular broadband bogeyman on the loose. You keep seeing phrases like “AT&T 3G shutdown,” Verizon 3G sunset,” and “T-Mobile 3G shutdown,” and it’s a little unnerving.
Is 3G going away?
Yes, 3G networks are going away. However, the situation is far from dire. Finding 4G and 5G wireless edge solutions that can be deployed efficiently and managed through the cloud isn’t as cumbersome of a process as you might think. Let’s dive into cellular router refresh options and processes. First, though, let’s cover the timeline.
When is 3G going away?
All major U.S. cellular carriers are “sunsetting” support for 2G and 3G cellular networks by the end of 2022. Here are some general target dates for each network operator:
- AT&T (3G HSPA+ network) — Feb. 22, 2022*
- Sprint (3G WCDMA network) — Mar. 31, 2022
- T-Mobile (3G UMTS network) — July 1, 2022
- Verizon (3G EVDO network) — Dec. 31, 2022
In other words, all organizations that use 3G — you can read more about CDMA vs. GSM technology — for enterprise networking will need to replace and upgrade their wireless edge routers to keep those devices and applications running. The clear upgrade path for a Wireless WAN user is 4G or 5G solutions.
*NOTE: Businesses that use routers with AT&T 4G service also will need to upgrade their modem firmware to continue to work after the Feb. 22 3G shutdown.
What’s changing with 4G?
3G is not the only evolution of cellular technology that is undergoing changes. For some carriers, 4G is changing, too. Because AT&T’s 3G shutdown will be accompanied by changes to its 4G service, organizations that are using AT&T 4G will need a modem firmware update in their routers.
Also, Sprint is shutting down its 4G service in June 2022 as it shifts customers to T-Mobile or another carrier. Thus, any company using Sprint 4G will need to swap the SIM cards in its routers.
Which devices and use cases still use 3G?
Many companies and public sector agencies stopped using 3G a long time ago, but there are some use cases in which 3G has remained sufficient. The organizations still using 3G mostly are using it for the cellular IoT connectivity necessary for devices and applications that don’t require lots of bandwidth or particularly high performance, including:
- Industrial equipment control
- Remote asset monitoring
- Temperature monitoring in restaurant freezers
- In-vehicle telematics systems
- Emergency call boxes
- Utility controls
How will 4G and 5G benefit businesses currently using 3G?
The 3G network shutdown is right around the corner, leading many organizations to upgrade to 4G or 5G solutions. Cloud-managed routers featuring advanced cellular for business are a great way to improve operations, especially because of a few key benefits.
High-performance 4G and 5G
Routers and adapters featuring 4G and 5G afford a certain level of future-proofing by giving businesses the flexibility to support higher-bandwidth needs in preparation for evolving and new edge networking use cases.
Centralized management that streamlines rollout
Companies can easily replace a large amount of 3G routers either all at once or in phases through a single-pane-of-glass cloud platform such as Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager. NetCloud includes zero-touch deployment features and intuitive configuration tools that greatly expedite 4G and 5G router rollouts.
Comprehensive network security
Each company has it own set of network security standards and best practices, especially regarding compliance requirements that differ from one industry to the next. Enterprise-grade routers that integrate with cloud security services give IT teams the control they need to seamlessly and securely add IoT into existing network frameworks.