A major change in mobile networks is happening. The sunsetting of older 2G and 3G legacy networks is under way. The US is already a decade into the process, and Europe is catching up. As a result, businesses relying on 2G and 3G for their Internet of Things (IoT) solutions must act now to ensure their devices stay connected. This five-minute guide, we explain how you can start future-proofing your IoT solution, and where to find the help you need.
The reasons why Mobile Network Operators (including Telia) are closing down 2G and 3G networks vary – in many cases there are regulatory requirements to do so – but the result is almost always the same: the switch to far more powerful, more efficient network technologies like 4G and 5G. These solutions make much more effective use of spectrum that reduces operational overheads and ultimately results in better experiences for customers. They also create new possibilities for how IoT can be harnessed in the future.
Step one: plan ahead
The process of modernising your IoT solution should begin with researching the shutdown deadline for your region and creating a clear timeline for when you need to finish updating your current solution.
This may vary depending on whether your devices use 2G or 3G. Many operators in the Nordic and Baltic regions, for example, will close 3G networks first.
If you are not sure whether your devices use 2G or 3G a helpful glossary of terms for identifying the technologies associated with 2G and 3G can be found in our full IoT modernisation guide.
Step two: evaluate your situation
Before going any further, it is essential to take stock of the specific situation for your business, and the details of what your upgrade entails.
Consider which connected devices your business truly relies upon and the knock-on effect they have on other essential systems and processes. Identify how complex updating them will be (some devices may be more difficult to access than others) to plan effective use of resources. Then, break down the base requirements you have for the new technology you choose, as well as opportunities you see for new features and improvements.
A list of key questions that can help you zero in on how your business will be affected can be found in this white paper on the 2G and 3G switch-off. Carrying out a thorough assessment is the foundation for picking a solution that best benefits your business, so it’s worth doing the homework.
Step three: building your new solution
Now you have the base knowledge needed, it’s time to start building your very own connectivity solution according to the specs you require: the level of connectivity needed will depend on your use cases and business goals.
Many use cases will be best suited by using LTE-M technology, which has close parallels to the already familiar 2G and 3G currently in widespread use, but has the benefit of being able to send more data than those older technologies. LTE-M also has the additional advantage of requiring less battery power than 4G and 5G tech. If even greater battery life is desired, then NB-IoT technology is an excellent option for the least data-intense use cases, as it demands even less power than LTE-M.
For IoT use cases that demand the reliable handling of vast amounts of data on the other hand, the most modern cellular alternatives such as 4G LTE or 5G could be the best option, though these are more power intensive technologies.
The graphic below provides a quick overview of the strengths and suitability of the network technologies available in the 5G era. A more detailed breakdown, including the use cases and device types these technologies typically suit best, can be found in our guide to modernizing IoT solutions.
Step four: simple, secure, scalable
By now you may think you’ve found the technology that best suits your use case, but before making the final call, it’s worth stopping and considering the following questions:
- Does the solution offer the simplest process of installation and maintenance for your needs?
- Does it deliver the level of security your operations demand?
- Is it scalable enough to meet your business ambitions?
Properly addressing these questions from the start will help you make sure you choose a solution that works for your business not only in the short term, but for years to come.
Cutting corners can be costly in the long term: consider the problems that would arise from hastily deploying a solution only to find it doesn’t meet the security standards your operations need. Such errors can be costly for your brand and business, so it is worth being thorough in the planning phase.
Still unsure how the shift will impact you, and need support making the right choice? Download our guide to modernizing IoT solutions to find out how your devices could be affected.