2G, or Second Generation Wireless Networks with AT&T will be shut down by 2017. Friday, August 3rd, AT&T filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down these networks as it continues to upgrade its systems to faster technology and better use its limited airwaves.
From a Consumer perspective, this will impact roughly 12% of AT&T Customers, but proactive measures will be in place to prevent interruption in service. However, in Industrial Segments, the change will be more impactful. Many M2M, Machine to Machine, devices rely on 2nd Generation networks. If this technology is 2nd Generation, but Consumer Markets are using 4th Generation, why aren’t we up to speed? The generational improvement in the networks is primarily driven for speed in transmission (bytes/second). Given the compact nature of the data generated by a tracking device, or data packet, the transmission time is not a factor for performance (in comparison to a voice conversation or loading a web page). For example, a 2G network can transmit up to 50,000 bytes/second versus a 3G network of up to 4 Million bytes/second. But the typical data packet or tracking message is only 256 bytes!
The critical factor for M2M devices is coverage. As visible with a smartphone, the 4G and sometimes 3G networks are not always available. Often rural areas only have 2G network coverage, and in order to ensure that most complete information when tracking industrial assets, we factor to the lowest common denominator to enable a message to transmit almost anywhere, including internationally. If Lat-Lon only offered 4G transmission, units would only transmit in densely populated regions where 4G network coverage is available.
What will happen in 2017? The deadline may possibly be extended, but when the 2G network is shutdown, any unit still transmitting in 2G will no longer be able to communicate.
More specifically, this will impact Lat-Lon customers, but we also have a proactive plan in place to offer the best possible service available. Lat-Lon is switching to CDMA as a standard due to improved coverage and extend operational lifetime. Any unit with an ALPHA NUMERIC serial number has a CDMA modem which is estimated to remain unchanged until 2022. Additionally, Lat-Lon has additional technicians to perform a health check on units and switch the modem if requested. More questions? Feel free to contact us for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-300-6566.