The approaching sunsetting of the 3G mobile network is one of the hot technology topics facing trucking fleets today.

And with good reason, once the 3G mobile network is disabled in the coming months, any 3G mobile devices deployed in your fleet will be unable to establish a mobile connection1.

And to provide a scope of the enormity of this new technological challenge. There are currently about 64 million 2G and 3G devices facing sunsetting, about half of the IoT devices deployed today2.

As with the transition to electronic logging devices (ELDs) in 2017, fleets need to begin planning now for the inevitable phaseout to avoid business disruptions, including difficulties remaining in compliance, tracking and maintaining vehicle connectivity, and loss of productivity.

Planning for the Switch

As with any technology transition, making the switch to 3G involves more than just “flipping a switch.” It is crucial to have a plan.

Creating a 4G/LTE transformation checklist, addressing crucial questions regarding the fleet’s transition from 3G, will help fleet and company leadership better prepare for the end of the current network and the emergence of the new one.

The following are the fundamental questions that fleets should be addressing as they make their transition plans:

  • How many connected devices are in the fleet’s inventory?
  • Where or on what assets are the current 2G or 3G devices located?
  • Are these devices managed or unmanaged?
  • What network technologies (e.g., 2G, 3G, LTE) do these assets use?
  • Are any currently at the end of their operational lives?
  • Are capex or opex models being used?2

There may be other questions specific to your operation, for example, is your fleet regulated, are devices hardwired or use the OBD II port to be connected, and how imperative is it for real-time reporting?

The good news is that many devices that fleets are already using may be 4G capable. But as with the recent transition from automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) in 2019 — some of which were already ELD compliant — fleet and company leadership should not assume that a newer device is 4G compatible. The wrong assumption could be costly. This is why it is crucial to ask the above questions before making assumptions or putting a plan in place.

Benefitting from the New

The switch from 2G/3G to 4G isn’t an example of change for change’s sake. The need for the transition is a question of digital “real estate” or available spectrum. As companies transition to 5G networks, there isn’t the bandwidth available for 3G devices1.

While on the face of it a technological change of this magnitude may seem daunting—it will result in a win-win for the fleet, its company, and its customers, including:

  • Lower hardware costs — units are inexpensive and only need to be replaced every two or three years.
  • More data capability — robust data can be received in near real time.
  • More reliable connectivity — there’s better outdoor and indoor signal penetration; and the ability to effectively stream video.
  • The ability to engineer the fleet’s IoT network for scalability — the fleet is future proofed to avoid network obsolescence1,2.  

Preparing for the Future Today

While fleets likely will have connectivity to the 3G network until 20221, as the example of the ELD transition demonstrates, technological deadlines are unforgiving, requiring planning sooner than later. A delay in beginning the process could be disastrous down the road.

To that end, you will need the support of your network solution partner to develop a plan that will help you remain ahead of the technological curve.

For example, the AT&T IoT Consulting group can help you develop a plan that both reflects technological realities and the needs of your fleet operation.

The team’s holistic approach is focused on identifying implementation and management requirements, developing prioritized use cases and scenarios to maximize fleet efficiency and productivity, and defining streamlined device logistics with customized, integrated solutions.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to nor should you go it alone when making a significant technological transition. Lean on a solution provider partner who has the expertise to help you develop a plan for technological success and ongoing productivity.

To learn more about how AT&T Business Solutions can help you make the 4G/LTE leap, go to www.business.att.com/explore/make-the-switch.html


  1. “Should Fleets Worry About the 3G Phaseout?” Beach, Jim. Automotive-fleet.com. April 15, 2019. https://www.automotive-fleet.com/329559/should-fleets-worry-about-the-3g-phaseout. Accessed June 15, 2020.
  2. “The Sunset of 2G/3G Is Coming. Is Your Business Ready?” AT&T Business. 2020. https://www.business.att.com/content/dam/attbusiness/infographics/sunset-of-2G-3G-infographic.pdf. Accessed June 15, 2020.