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2G/3G Network Retirements and the Future of GPS

Future of GPS Posted by Logistimatics Team on February 16, 2022

There might be a few terms out there you’ve heard in the media for one reason or another. The new 5G networks, the old 2G/3G networks, or even the term “sunsetting”—and it might sound like Star Trek jargon. But if you have older equipment, all this talk may affect you. It’s certainly affecting the companies that stock that equipment.

Knowing what to expect over the next decade, how you can adapt to the changes, and how your #1 GPS tracker providers are handling it may help you navigate the situation with less confusion.


First: A History Lesson

We’re getting into proper “when I was your age” storytime here—all the way back to the days of 1991! This is when we first start to see what would become the Second Generation (or 2G) of mobile networking and data transfer.

Before this network, all signals sent were analog. This included radio broadcasts, walkie-talkies, and anything else that sent an electromagnetic wave from one place to another receiver. 2G brought conversation to the digital era with the first instances of sending text and data. 

2G was very much a Wild West sort of situation. We’d never connected to each other like this, and we made big leaps in GPS tracking and communications. The Third Generation (3G) continued this advancement in the 2000s and also brought with it increased encryption and security as more providers shifted from the early digital options to stronger sources.

Fast-track to today and the Fourth Generation (4G) and Fifth Generation (5G) of telecommunications technology is underway. Not only are we able to send text and data like the older generations, but we’re also doing so much faster. 

However, now that we have multiple generations operating all at once, we’re running into an odd resource pinch.


The Airspace Issue

Each generation of digital telecommunications has its own assigned spectrum in the air. Imagine that 2G networks have their own little sandbox to play in when broadcasting their signals at specific frequencies. 2G has one band, 3G has another, and 4G/5G technology have their own too.

Now, would you believe we’re running out of airspace? It’s strange, but as 4G and 5G become more and more ubiquitous, their particular spectrums have to carry more information. So long as 2G and 3G continue to operate on their assigned frequencies, 4G and 5G cannot use those frequencies as well, and as Vox reports, it’s a “one-or-the-other” choice.

As 3G devices slowly get outmoded, operators like AT&T and Verizon have had to decide whether or not to maintain that frequency. It’s becoming less valuable for them to keep these spectrum bands open for the older technology—so they’ve chosen to shut those networks down for new networks to use them.


The 2G/3G Sunset

Many operators have run the numbers and made the decision to “sunset” their older networks. With an announcement months or years in advance, they’ve made it clear that they will no longer have antennas, broadcasts, or wireless networks devoted to hosting transmissions from those previous generations of tech. 

This is big news for anyone with older devices. There are whole trucking fleets out there that have relied on 2G and 3G era tracking technology since it dropped.

But with these networks being sunsetted, what happens if an operator flips that switch? Those devices can’t connect. And no connection means no tracking.

This makes it really important to understand when providers are sunsetting these networks so you can plan ahead. Many operators have already shut down their 2G networks, and here are a few currently published dates of operators shutting down their 3G networks:

  • Verizon: December 2022
  • AT&T: February 2022
  • T-Mobile: July 2022

At Logistimatics we’ve partnered with all three major wireless carriers for years to provide customers with high-fidelity GPS tracking with our hardware. This change of theirs requires changes of our own.


Future of GPS: How Logistimatics Will Adapt

With the sunsetting of these networks, we too must sunset our hardware. Since we’re not in the business of providing intermittent or unreliable tracking, we already stopped selling our 2G/3G devices in late 2021. Going forward, we will be aiming to update all our GPS trackers to work seamlessly with 4G and 5G-era digital tracking.

As much work as it is to adjust to these changes, we’re excited for them. GPS tracking devices built for our globe-spanning 4G networks have a much better performance and faster data transfer speed compared to the older devices. And not only do they transfer data faster, but they are also capable of caching historical data for much longer and allowing for better real-time tracking. Connection stability will also be far more reliable.

While all of this is overall great news for GPS users, you may wonder what happens with your own current devices.


2G/3G Networks Retiring: What This Means For You

Older devices you may have will no longer be able to track once the 2G and 3G networks are not supported. At Logistimatics we can assure you that we will continue to operate with all three major wireless carriers until they sunset their 2G/3G networks, providing you with top-tier connectivity and tracking as long as possible.

We’re also here to help you through this transition. If you aren’t sure whether or not your devices rely on these older networks, just reach out to us and we’ll assess your device for you. If you have a 2G/3G device, we’ll also consult with you on what your best options are for an upgrade.

If you take a look at our products, you’ll see that we’ve already begun the shift. Logistimatics no longer sells 2G/3G products. However, that doesn’t mean we’re leaving our dedicated customers high and dry. We want to provide you premium service during and after the sunsetting of the 2G/3G networks. 

If you have any questions regarding this transition, your old devices, or how to step into the 4G generation of GPS trackers, ask us today. If you have a fleet of old devices in need of replacing, our sales team can get you started.