The 3G network sunset is rapidly becoming a reality as many major carriers are approaching their network turndown dates in 2022. The 3G sunset, initiated to create more bandwidth to be shared between 4G LTE and 5G, will impact all cellular devices connected on the 3G network, including IoT devices across broad use cases.
In IoT, having to migrate devices from 3G to different network technology can be complicated. Some use cases have a low tolerance for service disruptions, such as critical medical devices. Other use cases, such as fleet, face difficulties getting all the connected devices switched out when fleet trucks are in constant motion. In other use cases, devices might be widespread or difficult to access.
No matter what the application, accessing devices and switching out the SIM card to connect to a new network is a large-scale project that, in IoT, comes with its own unique set of challenges and considerations.
Migrating to a new network technology doesn’t have to be extremely difficult if it is approached with a well-laid plan and understanding of the various components that make for a successful IoT deployment.
The first crucial step to planning for the network turndown is identifying your service provider and their timeline. This can be complicated in large-scale IoT applications that leverage multiple providers, and more difficult still if solutions are global.
The second step is identifying your hardware – numbers, location, type, – to begin with. It should also be determined whether an off-the-shelf device would be preferred, or you need a custom device, which may take longer and be more costly. Overall, these considerations are going to help you build the hardware arm of your migration costs forecast.
With an IoT solution, leveraging cellular connectivity will help provide greater reach, bandwidth, scalability, and coverage. From there, organizations should choose from a few options:
4G LTE or 5G: The latest cellular generations are going to provide high bandwidth, high speed, and low latency. Depending on the use case, 4G LTE works well and is widely available both from an infrastructure and hardware perspective. With the 5G rollout beginning to mature at the front of 2022, wide availability is still going to take a few years, much like the rollout of 4G. Additionally, your individual use case might not demand such high speeds and low latency of 5G, and the cost of leveraging that connectivity option can be avoided.
Lower Power Wide Area (LPWA): Available LPWA networks can be found in LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machine-Type Communications) and NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT). Both were designed for IoT solutions that require penetrability and reach, such as underground or hard-to-reach locations. These are both great options for rural locations where 4G LTE coverage might not be available or reliable.
LoRaWAN: A non-cellular option, LoRaWAN is the public spectrum built off LoRa that provides low-cost, wide-coverage connectivity.
eSIM: While you would still need to choose the network technology for your IoT solutions, the connectivity technology to support the lifecycle of the device can be found in eSIM. Ideally, you want the connectivity of your device to last the entire lifecycle, but this isn’t always possible, as seen in these recent network sunsets. Leveraging eSIM allows the SIM card to host multiple carriers so you can switch carriers remotely if needed.
Whether you’re getting new devices, ordering new SIMs, or choosing eSIM, many steps are required just to get the physical hardware you need to carry out the migration. Then, sending out the field service personnel to coordinate swapping out SIM cards or devices requires careful planning, as well as communications internally or externally if you expect any service interruptions.
KORE has a proven track record of helping customers manage network sunsets and enabling their migrations to minimize business impact. To make these network shutdowns as seamless as possible for your business, KORE will work with you to create a successful, attainable LTE migration strategy.
Also, unlike many other connectivity providers, KORE understands the critical importance of proactively notifying customers with the latest carrier updates on network shutdowns. Leveraging strategic relationships with the carriers, KORE customers often have access to this information before it’s made publicly available to ensure as much time as possible for strategic planning and execution.
KORE is partnered with more than 24 cellular carriers around the globe and offers LTE connectivity from all major North American carriers. We ensure our customers have access to the broadest range of LTE options possible – including both LTE-M and NB-IoT network technologies – all managed via our robust, centralized connectivity management platform, ConnectivityProTM.
Should organizations require new, LTE-capable devices to support their solutions, KORE offers a selection of best-in-class equipment from leading manufacturers. Our comprehensive solutions are pre-integrated with 4G LTE connectivity and are shipped to work out of the box for accelerated speed to market and streamlined operational processes.
For those who are seeking to develop proprietary LTE-capable devices, KORE also has strategic relationships with leading module manufacturers that can aid in the deployment of new, custom devices.
Finally, KORE has a suite of managed services to help you plan, select hardware, facilitate logistics, and much more.
To learn more about KORE and our experience in network sunsets and migrations, reach out and we can start building your plan today! Check out our eBook, "The Definitive Guide to Network Shutdowns", to learn more.
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