In 2021 the UK Government announced an agreement with mobile phone network providers Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three to phase out 3G and 2G mobile services in the next 10 years.

Whilst this is generally seen as a positive move to offer faster more reliable mobile services and ensure the safety of our telecoms networks, for customers still reliant on 3G connectivity and coverage this may be a cause for concern

Why is this happening?

Mobile networks only have access to a limited supply of spectrum, which is what they use to transmit mobile signals. The more spectrum available for a given connectivity type (such as 3G, 4G or 5G) the better the service that can be offered in terms of coverage, reliability, and speed. So by turning off 3G, networks can repurpose the spectrum that was used for this to bolster their 5G and 4G services. Since 4G and particularly 5G are more modern, speedy services, this is desirable to do, and should improve the overall experience for customers. Ending 3G services will also allow networks to retire dated, power-hungry equipment from the 3G era, reducing costs in the process. It’s a move that could also help pave the way to 6G.

Source: TechRadar

Timeline for Shutdown

EE have targeted the phaseout of 3G services by the beginning of 2023, Vodafone throughout 2023, and Three has confirmed it will switch off its 3G network by 2024. O2 has not specifically announced when it will close down 3G services, but we expect they’ll do it much sooner than the 2033 deadline. Leaving many businesses facing the prospect of major comms disruption unless they have an action plan in place.

What’s the impact?

Mobile phone and Kindle users will already be aware of the hardware problem that this poses, as some older devices leveraging 2G and 3G will require upgrades to ensure compatibility if they want to stay connected. Car users will also be affected when using 3G connectivity to power in-car smart services such as location, traffic, and navigation.

For commercial customers reliant on 3G connectivity to connect their buildings and access remote building management or connectivity services, there will be a pressing need to ensure hardware compatibility and SIM swap-out in good time to prevent service interruption to critical building services. Many gateway and connectivity devices installed on customer sites are only capable of supporting 3G connectivity or may be powered by 2G or 3G SIMs due to be retired by the mobile provider within the next 6-12 months. Without a migration plan in place for affected sites, customers could find themselves without access to vital services, disrupting plant and wider building operations core to the effective running of building control systems.

How can we help?

As a leader in building management system integration and digital services, learnd is on hand to support you through the transition. Our partnership with JT IoT gives us the ability to empower more efficient and sustainable building management by combining learnd’s Open Data Platform with JT IoT’s first-in-class global connectivity. This will allow building engineers and experts to gain enhanced real-time data from all data sources within each estate no matter where in the world the building is located. learnd’s customers will be able to take advantage of this capability, irrespective of their location, and JT IoT’s IoT connectivity will enable learnd to handle more data connections, scale the data package requirements for each estate and connect to any type of network around the world, including in markets with roaming restrictions like the USA, Brazil and Canada.

For customers currently receiving remote services from us with impacted sites, we’ll be in touch to offer alternatives and discuss the optimal route to keeping you connected. For customers looking to review their connectivity strategy, we offer a range of hosted and on-site remote connectivity solutions leveraging the latest technology to drive greater visibility and secure access to your BMS data, connected to our Remote Operations Centre (The ROC) located at our HQ in Greater Manchester.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements or to arrange an audit of your on-site equipment.