We are just about a year removed from the retirement of AT&T’s 2G network, which serves as a beacon of things to come, as it is expected that the remaining North American carriers will be sun setting their 2G and even their 3G networks over the next three to five years.
Some organizations are dealing with the 2G and 3G phase-outs by switching to carriers with later sunset dates to delay transitioning to LTE. But what must be realized is that LTE is a “when,” not “if,” scenario. Once these 2G and 3G networks are gone, low power LTE categories – Cat-M and NB IoT – will be the only comparable cellular options.
There are significant challenges businesses will experience by delaying the inevitable. Switching carriers will result in additional costs, training requirements, potential glitches and other issues that can impact the bottom line and disrupt business. Then, a few years later, the process begins again with the migration to LTE.
In essence, avoiding the transition to LTE is not delaying a headache – it’s doubling the headaches in a relatively short period of time.
Further complicating the issue is that the carriers will likely enforce deadlines on the activation of new devices on 2G and 3G networks that will far precede their sunset dates. With that said, the migration to LTE may have to happen sooner than expected if an organization wishes to expand their IoT deployment.
The Benefits of Transitioning Now
With the introduction of low power LTE options, which offer right-sized functionality at price points similar to 2G and 3G, many organizations are making the necessary transition before it is absolutely mandatory. These businesses are learning that “ripping off the Band-Aid” now is less painful than putting off the transition.
This is especially true for those in industries like security, utilities, and fleet, where thousands of devices would have to be moved over to a new carrier or new technology, and then updated to LTE. By migrating now, you will not only avoid the pain points of continuing with a network that will eventually go away, but you can get a jump on the benefits of LTE.
While each business operates under a unique set of circumstances that impact any major decision, the plusses of switching to another 2G or 3G network before eventually making the mandatory jump to LTE seem limited for most. Major change is never easy – but why do it more than once if you do not have to?