Although 2G and 3G networks have been around for decades, they are bandwidth restrained, less efficient and much more expensive to operate for carriers. 2G and 3G networks have also struggled to keep up with the demands of today’s latest technological advancements including robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and edge computing. This has led to the “sunsetting“ of these networks and the rollout of the latest generation of wireless technology – 5G.
If customers didn’t complain, carriers would turn off old networks as soon as possible. When networks are sunset, it is not because someone decided to arbitrarily retire a technology like 3G, it is turned off so a carrier can use that spectrum for newer technology that will be able to transmit more data and meet the needs of the market better. Unfortunately, this can leave the users of the last data network in the dark.
If you operate or sell to businesses with connected devices that rely on these networks, the idea that a network could turn off before your device is EOL is very problematic – especially when the device is not easily accessible. While buying a new phone and getting a new SIM card for a consumer device can be a headache, it’s a lot easier than when an enterprise M2M solution must shift to new network technologies. When M2M devices get hit with a network sunset, a rip-and-replace operation is a whole different ballgame.
Data networks have lifecycles, and if your business isn’t prepared for a future where networks are no longer accessible, then you will eventually face a moment of reckoning and panic where expensive truck rolls and dead devices are a reality. While it might seem like a far-off problem that you won’t have to worry about for 10-20 years, the recent 3G sunsets have been a painful experience for many hoping to squeeze a few more years out of their existing deployment hardware.
A solution like Teal puts the device owner in the drivers seat to the credential their devices use on the towers and as a result, what network they are camped on. Many devices today are capable of accessing 5G but are shipping with 4G SIM cards that will die when 4G is re-farmed for the launch of 6G, something already being planned per the below 3GPP network evolution chart. A platform like Teal solves this by allowing for an upgrade path to newer credential types and the flexibility for no-cost network transfers to maximize IoT device lifecycle management.