Should You Be Alarmed By the 3G Sunset?
Bills were sent, letters posted, emails transmitted, and text messages were delivered. Wireless carriers have provided years’ worth of notice surrounding 3G’s sunset, except one industry is claiming that the pandemic and supply chain shortages have inhibited. The alarm industry is asking that wireless carriers postpone the transition until they can update their 3G devices.
Why Do 3G Networks Need to Be Sunsetted?
Federal Communications Committee (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented that eliminating the third-generation (3G) networking would “strengthen our communications infrastructure and provide more opportunities for innovation and growth at a national scale.” 3G communications have been around for almost 20 years and are clogging a significant amount of spectrum of already limited airwaves, especially in an environment where the demand for mobile data is ever-persistent. An Ericsson Mobility report found that “average traffic usage per smartphone is expected to reach 53GB/month in North America” by 2027.
Will Security Systems Operate Post 3G Shutdowns?
With 3G networks shutting down, over 200M devices will be unable to connect, communicate, or transact. If your home security network functions off 3G network transmission, it may appear to function after 3G’s shutdown (Figure 1), but in actuality, it will not have the ability to communicate with central monitoring stations. In a technological sunset that the Alarm Industry Communications Committee is calling "harmful, even deadly," is there a solution?T-
3G Shutdown Date
Dec 31, 2019
May 31, 2022
Dec 31, 2022
Figure 1: Major wireless carrier 3G shutdown schedule
Is There a Solution For 3G Connected Devices?
It’s not just cellphones and alarm systems that will be affected by the 3G network sunset. Any 3G connected devices will become obsolete including medical alert devices, fire alarm systems, criminal monitoring devices, alcohol monitoring systems, GPS services, and even vending machines. There is a desperate urge to ‘check your tech’ now. It’s imperative that developers switch their device to 4G or 5G connectivity now.
If you’re already considering a 4G shutdown in the wake of the 3G sunset panic, don’t worry, 4G will be around for some time still. According to Digi International’s article, 4G to 5G: How Long Will 4G LTE Be Available, 4G will be around for at least another decade because it is able to coexist with 5G networks through Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).
Alarm companies are working quickly to mitigate the effects of the changeover. Currently, the main solution in the industry comes from cellular experts at CellBounce with their plug-and-play conversion tool. Already utilized in ADT’s CellBridge technology, CellBounce’s CB34U Gateway uses a 4G LTE modem that is able to connect/communicate with an embedded 3G femto base station and controller that responds to 3G alarm panel attach requests. Once the request is attached to the 3G alarm panel, it is authenticated and allowed to connect to 4G networks.
Figure 1: CellBounce's simplified CB34U gateway diagram
As more companies prepare to make the 3G to 4G network switch, more solutions will enter the marketplace. Developers will have to start thinking about the broader perspective of their technology. Could modular and socketed radio be replaced in new designs? The conversation of future proofing connectivity is happening now.
Looking for solutions for your 3G connected devices? Our talented team of Applications Engineers can assist with any changeover considerations you need to make. Contact Symmetry Electronics today!