Change is inevitable. Mobile Network Operators face the constant need of upgrading the network to support the rise in global mobile data usage and increasing traffic enabled by emerging IoT applications.
Many operators across the globe have already announced shutdowns of 2G and 3G networks and some of them have stopped supporting 2G networks. The entire landscape of cellular connectivity is changing with the sunset of cellular networks and the continuous growth of 5G networks.
Enterprises worldwide still use 2G and 3G for various IoT use cases and applications. For these businesses, the questions today are around the life expectancy of those networks, how long 4G LTE networks will be viable, and if 5G will mature soon enough for their needs.
Impact of 2G and 3G sunsetting on existing IoT deployments
More than 50% of cellular connected IoT deployments today are 2G or 3G. Changing the communication module of IoT devices due to network sunset is challenging, and requires investment in people, cost and time as it may force hardware modifications or revisions.
If an organization’s existing IoT deployment is based on communication modules that is designed to use 2G or 3G, then sunsetting can cause many device compatibility problems. The IoT deployment has to be reconfigured to support newer cellular based technologies.
Transitioning to new networks
Before making tough decisions, enterprises must do a detailed and thorough review of the inventory of their connected device offerings. They need to consider these factors for transitioning the existing IoT deployment based on 2G/3G network:
- Number of connected devices deployed currently
- Type of communication technologies used by devices (2G, 3G, LTE etc)
- Connectivity from operators and their plan for 2G/3G shutdown
- Locations of 2G or 3G devices and the need for truck roll
- Data transmission requirements
- Type of connectivity to be considered for upgrade
- Devices scheduled for end of life
- CapEx or OpEx models for devices
After evaluating these factors, enterprises must prepare a comprehensive plan for phased migration of devices in the existing IoT deployment to new network. The approach has to be based on minimizing the cost of migration with minimal disruption to existing operations and long-term implications as cellular networks continue to evolve.
- Retrofit existing devices- For specific types of retrofit IoT devices, the best starting point is adding a gateway with LTE or 5G cellular module. Intelligent gateways serves as a bridge between legacy systems and more modern Internet-connected systems. Explore the possibility of using cellular modems that work smoothly and are fully compatible with existing devices by providing future-proof migration path to the higher speed LTE or 5G network with the same functionality. This also has the advantage of providing 2G fallback compatibility, if needed.
- OpEx procurement Model – To reduce capital expenditure for migrating devices during 2G/3G sunsets, explore OpEx procurement model for purchasing new devices. This will help better predict and maximize ROI.
- LPWA device options: Many IoT applications require low data rates and only need to transmit small amounts of data. Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networking technologies, such as LTE-M and NB-IoT is perfectly suited for such IoT applications. Explore devices with LPWA technologies that cost less, use less power and have better coverage inside buildings and deeper penetration especially in rural areas.
Making the change with the right migration strategy
No matter what approach is considered in transitioning to the new network, it is important to consider deploying eSIM technology based SIM. This will ensure your solution has connectivity for the entire lifecycle and will also provide you the capability to change connectivity provider without needing to physically swap SIM cards for always-on connectivity through a carrier-independent over-the-air platform.
It is also important to consider implementing a solution that supports remote configuration and firmware updates of devices. The aim is to minimize the need for costly site visit, truck rolls and professional services that can have a huge implication on cost of migration and maintenance activities.
Are you prepared for the 2G/3G sunset in order to avoid blackout and business disruption? Wipro will help make your transition seamless. For more details, connect with us on firstname.lastname@example.org