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Everything You Need To Know About The 3G Cellular Upgrade

30 Oct 2019

Do you have a residential or commercial security system?  If so, you need to keep reading.

What Is the 3G Sunset?

In the event you haven’t heard about the upcoming alarm 3G sunset, let’s get you up to speed about the importance of migrating to 4G or even 5G networks for your security systems.

 The 3G sunset refers to the impending point in time where manufacturers and carriers will stop manufacturing and supporting devices that use 3G networks. 

 For those that use these networks, there is not much time left to make the switch because the 3G sunset is not too far behind the 2G sunset.

Why Is 3G Being Phased Out?

So, why is this happening? The simple answer is that it’s time for something new. With the arrival of 5G, the natural progression is for carriers and manufacturers to start phasing out their older networks to make room for the new networks. Most ALL have already stopped supporting 2G networks, and 3G cellular upgrade will follow shortly.

What is the difference of LTE vs 3G?

We are now entering a period of transition from 3G/CDMA networks to 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks.  LTE can be up to ten times faster than 3G/CDMA. It is important to remember that the 3G network was built to support voice and limited data transfers. The modern consumer simply requires much more from the network, rendering the question of whether to move to LTE vs 3G moot.

How Challenging is this Impending Move?

The sun will go down on 3G/CDMA soon. But the 3G sunset dates are still in flux. Different carriers have different dates. For instance, AT&T has stated February 2022 will be the end of their 3G network. Verizon says they will drop 3G at the end of 2022, with exceptions for some machine-to-machine (M2M) devices including IoT (Internet of Things) security products.

 To avoid catastrophe, any alarm panel that communicates exclusively over these legacy networks will need a new modem cellular communicator in the next year or so.

Many consumers likely do not know how their security system communicates with a central monitoring station, interactive service, or smart home as a service. A terrible scenario would be them waking up in the middle of the night to the blare of a fire alarm, but no response.

When Should You Migrate?

The 3G sunset will impact devices like cell phones and security systems.Your devices that are supported by 3G networks could lose important data and functionality if you don’t make the switch to LTE before your carriers drop them. 

If you have any IoT devices operating on a carrier’s network, then you’ll lose that function for them as well. You will also need to make sure you have taken everything into account when migrating to a new network because more than likely most of your devices are connected.

If you haven’t already, you should begin converting all of your 3G/CDMA network devices to LTE network devices right away. While some carriers won’t drop 3G/CDMA support until after 2022, there are others such as Verizon that will stop after December 31, 2022. Depending on your carrier, you could lose that 3G support in a couple of months. If you haven’t started the transition, you should start now as the dates could change.

Concerned? Start with a Checklist

If you do not know how to begin migrating your devices, here are a few things you can do to start the process:

  • Take Inventory: Consider all of your devices and take note of the network type they are operating on. Also, ascertain which carrier supports each device. These two factors will determine which devices need to be upgraded or replaced. 
  • Determine Priorities: Determine how you use your devices, whether for business or for personal use. Then decide what types of devices you will need moving forward. This will help you decide whether or not to update their networks. You may decide that it may be more cost-effective to eliminate some devices rather than migrate them to a new network.
  • Schedule Migration: You don’t have to migrate your devices all at once. Set up a schedule where you can migrate your devices based on priority. Considering the long-term, it may be a good investment to migrate some of your devices up to the new 5G LTE networks now. If you plan on keeping certain devices for a long time, upgrading them to the latest network sooner rather than later can save you significant time and money in the future. 

Systemic Challenges to Migration

The big alarm providers are – well – alarmed by the prospect of migrating all of their customers. By some estimates, half of US alarm system subscribers are connected to the 3G network. Upgrading all of those subscribers would require over 100,000 service calls every month for the next three years or more.

The big alarm companies are going to struggle to change over all of their customers.

These large companies are going to likely charge up front $200-$500 and increase your monthly rate. Make sure your company is pricing fairly.

 The crush of customer complaints could also overwhelm their call centers. It takes a long time and many steps to get from a phone call to the installer knocking on the customers’ door let alone trying to set up an installation for something they do not want. 

The 3G sunset is coming.  You need to know the evolution of the network, what it means for you and your security system and what step to take.  Alarm New England can help.

So now what?

The solution?  Work with a local alarm company that focuses on customer service and responsiveness. 

In order to maintain an active cellular communication path, it is crucial that you upgrade to an LTE communicator. LTE stands for "Long-Term Evolution", and AT&T is expected to support their LTE network for many years to come. Most alarm systems that we support currently have an LTE communicator available, while others should be releasing one in the coming months. We recommend checking through our selection of cellular communicators to see if an LTE communicator is available for your system.

If you are affected by the alarm 3G sunset, now is the time to take action. You still have an opportunity to keep your system monitored or upgrade to a new system if necessary. The best thing you can do is contact Alarm New England immediately. We can verify which communicator your system is using if you aren't sure. If you do need an upgrade, we can make a recommendation.

If you need help in obtaining devices with the latest networks, we can help.  We want you to stay monitored and protected. That is our absolute top priority as a company. If you are affected by the alarm 3G Sunset, we urge you to reach out to us. Likewise, we also urge you to reach out to us if you are not sure. We can check your equipment and confirm whether or not an upgrade is needed. 

Local security companies like Alarm New England can help you navigate the 3G sunset.

Our team at Alarm New England can build a completely new alarm system or upgrade the equipment you already own. Reach out to us today. Let us get you set up!

 

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