2G/3G Network Sunsetting

Get ahead of 2G and 3G network sunsets

Many operators around the world are “sunsetting” (decommissioning) their 2G and 3G networks to make way for more modern network technologies like 5G. This can have a big impact on an IoT project if you are not prepared.

What is Network Sunsetting

Network Sunsetting is the term used to refer to the decommissioning of old cellular network infrastructure to make way for newer alternatives with the objective of enabling the role out of new connectivity options such as 5G. Cellular network operators across the world are planning (or in many cases have already completed) the shutdown of their 2G and 3G networks to free up spectrum capacity and network infrastructure for these new technologies.

After a network is sunset devices will no longer be able to connect to that network and will need to have an alternative in place.

What does this mean for me? 

If you have a device currently using 2G or 3G networks you need to start thinking about the future. The options and timelines depend on a few different factors but ultimately all deployments using 2G or 3G will need to have a plan in place to avoid significant disruption caused by these shutdowns. Once the networks are shutdown any devices using 2G or 3G will need to either have an option to switch to an alternative 2G or 3G network (although this can only be a short term solution) or have the ability to utilise another network technology like 4G. In some cases connecting to 4G may also not be possible and in this scenario the only other option may be a hardware upgrade.

What are my options?

My device is compatible with 4G

If your device is already capable of utilising 4G then you should be fine, but there are still a few things you may need to do.

My device is not compatible with 4G

If your device isn’t compatible with 4G then you still have a few options.

When will the networks be shut down? 

Below is a list of known 2G and 3G networking sunsetting dates. Please be aware that these dates are subject to change and are based on the information Pelion has received from our partners. In most cases network sunsets are phased and as such can take some time to complete, this can mean that shutdowns in many cases may start earlier and/or finish later than the dates listed so it is best to be prepared well in advance to avoid being caught out by a staggered shutdown or schedule change.

We always try to provide notice of shutdowns as early as possible and will make every effort to keep our customers informed if and when dates change but it is ultimately the decision of the network operator as to exactly when a network is sunset.

What do I need to do now? 

If your 2G or 3G network is being sunset the best course of action depends on the capabilities of your device. Below we provide some guidance on the options available and the necessary steps depending on your hardware capabilities.

My device is compatible with 4G

If your device is already capable of connecting to the 4G network you should be able to stay connected however you may still need to take action.

Finally, you need to consider if your device uses any additional services such as Voice or SMS services via one of the affected networks. If it does but is compatible with 4G equivalents (VoLTE) then follow the steps above for help with configuration and set-up. If it is not compatible and you are a Pelion customer, speak to your account manager.

My device is not compatible with 4G

If your device is not compatible with 4G (or another alternative) and you are not already thinking about a device upgrade, now is the time. Whilst in some cases there may be a solution, it will only be short term and your device will eventually be left without any networks to connect to.

Assuming you have confirmed your current network is affected by the shutdown you can check if any other 2G/3G networks are still available in your deployment area. If they are then you will have the option of switching to that network provider however, first you need to confirm whether your current plan and profile facilitates connection to that network. The quickest way to do this if you are a Pelion customer is to speak to your account manager. You can also check our current 2G/3G coverage here. Depending on your set-up, connecting to another 2G/3G network might even require a physical SIM swap if roaming is not available.

Although switching networks may provide a short term solution it’s not a long term fix, and in many cases it will not be an option at all. In this scenario you likely need to be thinking about a hardware upgrade. Depending on your use case and deployment locations there are several alternatives available. If power conservation is a priority for your device and you only use small volumes of data NB-IoT or LTE-M are worth considering. You can learn more about the differences here. Alternatively, 4G and now 5G provide a lot of performance and flexibility if power consumption is less of a priority. There is a lot of information available via our resources section or just get in touch with our team and set up a technical consultation so we can help you find the best fit.

Want to talk to someone?

If you are an existing customer your best option is to go directly to your account manager or raise a ticket via our support portal. If you are not a current Pelion customer and want to talk to someone, get in touch and see what our team can do to help.