The top 5 misconceptions about 2G sunsetting


By now, it’s no secret that our beloved, perceived-to-be-low-TCO 2G networks are going away. Even as the vast majority of in-service M2M applications would continue to add value with 2G technology for the foreseeable future, a new reality is drawing near that is already disrupting the business of M2M service delivery. Even as procrastination appears to be an ongoing option, there are several factors that dictate a more action-oriented strategy.

Let’s look more closely at some of the common misconceptions about the 2G shutdown.

5) My application is simple; it is low-use and low-bandwidth. Migrating before I absolutely have to is just a waste of money.

It is true that AT&T touts the higher speeds of 3G as able to deliver enhanced applications and solutions, to the benefit its customers. And to that you might respond, “Not for my customers. 2G is absolutely good enough for them.”

A better way to think of the forced migration is as a future-proofing mechanism. With 3G in place, you ensure seamless operation for your customers as far into the future as the eye can see, and you open up the possibility for new services down the line, services that one day may become table stakes for M2M services. You might not offer streaming video cameras for fleet trucks today, but who’s to say those will not become a must-have tomorrow.

4) Surely, some regulatory body will come along in the 23rd hour to keep 2G networks alive for specialised M2M applications

There has been some speculation that groups already invested in large-scale 2G M2M deployments such as utility companies or logistics providers might lobby to keep some portion of 2G dedicated spectrum alive. Even if such ends up being the case, the requirements for being “grandfathered in,” in all likelihood, will be stringent and difficult to meet for most private enterprises.

In short, if it was our business on the line, we wouldn’t count on it.

3) The total-cost-of-ownership of 2G-based solutions is far less.

How am I going to convince my customers to pay for services they don’t need.

As it happens, 3G airtime is less expensive; you don’t need as much of it to accomplish the same set of tasks. Over the lifetime of a device, these lower airtime costs offset the initial cost of investing in 3G modules. It’s like investing in a hybrid vehicle. It may cost incrementally more at outset, but over time it will pay for itself via fewer trips to the gas pump.

2) The cost of migration is exorbitant.

To be sure, most M2M service providers will be required to make an investment, but it is not as high of a fiscal hurdle as one might suspect. 3G modules are rapidly moving toward parity with 2G modules and, in concert with KORE customised pricing plans, simple contract addendums and device certification assistance, KORE is prepared to do whatever we can to make the migration as transparent as possible to your bottom line.

And the most common misconception about the 2G shutdown:

1) There is plenty of time. The shutdown isn’t happening until the end of 2016, so I don’t need to worry about it until then.

This is simply not true. AT&T has stated it is progressively working to free up spectrum between now and the deadline date, and may end up sunsetting some markets or territories even sooner. There is no telling today where those territories will be, so the specter of “no 2G” could very well impact you sooner rather than later.

KORE customer MobileHelp, whose nationwide medical alert devices are predicated on “always-on,” push button access for senior citizens and their families, understood that network degradation was a real risk between now and 2016 and elected to move fast. With the help of KORE, MobileHelp expedited the switch from 2G to 3G across all of its in-service devices within a year and is how entirely on 3G, well ahead of the shutdown.

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