3G Migration and GPS Vehicle Tracking

What is it and Why is it important?

The simple answer comes from what you see in the world around you everyday. Mobile connectivity is everywhere and growing at astonishing speeds and in ever surprising ways. Over a half a billion new mobile devices were connected in 2013 and by the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices actually exceeded the number of people on earth.

But what does that have to do with GPS Fleet Tracking? Well, to keep up with the exploding demand, cellular carriers have announced plans to "sunset" or phase out their 2G networks to free up and migrate spectrum capacity to more advanced 3G and higher networks. Mobile devices, like GPS tracking modems, that use 2G networks have already begun to experience degradation in coverage as carriers discontinue maintenance or begin to dismantle altogether a soon to be obsolete network. It also means that 2G devices will not participate in coverage expansion as new or repaired towers will not support 2G GPS devices. Few official dates have been publicized though AT&T, a global leader, has announced that the sunset date for their 2G network is the end of 2016.

A Bit of Background

The amount of data that can be passed through is key to each cellular generation. It's important to note that what carriers call 4G is just a faster 3G. Both 3G and 4G are based on HSPA technology, and therefore 4G will not outlast 3G technology, and for the GPS tracking industry, faster than 3G speeds aren’t necessary.

Speed of Cellular Data Transfer

The Road Ahead

Cellular Services Past

Cellular Providers have already begun to phase out 2G as the new cell towers being constructed are not 2G compatible. Currently, 2G and 3G signals are being transmitted on 2 frequencies equally. Imagine a frequency highway that has 4 lanes.

Cellular GPS Services Past
The 2G Sunset Present

Providers are giving less of the frequencies to 2G. Dates are beginning to be announced for when 2G support will ultimately end. 2G devices are merging to the right lanes on the frequency highway.

Cellular GPS Services Present
After the 2G Sunset

In the near future when the sunset date is reached, 2G devices will stop working overnight. Only 3G and higher networks will work for that date forward.

Cellular GPS Services After the Sunset