The pace of technological change is relentless. For individuals of a certain age, it seems like only yesterday the familiar sound of the dial-up modem could be regularly heard as you began the frustratingly slow process of getting online. Since then, it’s been nonstop – from copper lines to high-speed fibre, from early cellular technologies to LTE and 5G.
So, it comes as no surprise that, with more businesses and public organisations picking on the benefits of LTE/5G connectivity, 3G (and previous generations) are being retired by network operators around the world.
And, while it’s true that most organisations already moved on years ago, there are still several use cases where 3G networks continue to be used. In particular, where IoT solutions don’t necessarily require a lot of bandwidth or high levels of performance, 2G and 3G have proven more than adequate. This encompasses in-vehicle telematics systems, intelligent sensors, and emergency call boxes, among others. And alongside 2G and 3G sunsets, mobile network operators are also deploying low bandwidth protocols to accommodate IoT specific use cases such as NB-IoT and LTE-M.
But the end is near
Actually, it’s well underway. By the end of 2022, all major US operators will end their support for 2G and 3G networks. In Europe, Vodafone led the way with a 3G shutdown in the Netherlands in 2020. In Germany, Telefónica did it in 2021, one year earlier than planned, together with Telekom Deustschland. And most networks are in the same boat. To name a few: