What Does the 3G Sunset Mean for Australian Fleets?

A cell tower with mountains and the setting sky in the background.

It’s a part of every fleet manager’s life: cellular technologies go through cycles as updated versions become available. When a new cellular frequency is introduced, old ones need to be cleared to make room – and that’s exactly what’s happening with the 3G sunset.

3G sunset plans have already begun in Australia with Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all announcing plans to phase out older technologies over the coming months and years.

But what does this mean for fleets? Let’s delve a little deeper into what the 3G sunset is, how it will impact your fleet management software, and how to prepare for a 3G-less future.

What is the 3G Sunset?

The 3G sunset is the period when all wireless carriers will shut down their 3G services to make room for the upgrade. When this happens, every device that isn’t 4G LTE compatible or higher will no longer receive service.

Current telematics tech uses mostly 3G and 2G networks. If you’re still on these networks, you’ll need to upgrade to 4G LTE-supported units before the shutdown to keep everything running smoothly. If you fail to do so, you could end up with a communication drop-off.

When Will the 3G Sunset Begin in Australia?

The shutdown has begun and will continue over the next three years. Telstra has already announced that 3G devices will no longer be serviced from June 2024. Neither Vodafone nor Optus have announced full closure dates as of yet: “Optus has not yet set a date for our 3G shutdown,” a spokesperson told comparison website WhistleOut. “We will announce plans when we are able to do so.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Vodafone hinted at a longer delay, saying, “We are committed to supporting regional communities by keeping our 3G mobile network operating for years to come. We believe the Federal Government should use its upcoming auction of 900MHz spectrum to ensure that mobile carriers committed to providing ongoing services to their 3G customers are able to do so.”

A timeline showing the 2G and 3G network shutdown dates for Australian cellular carriers.

The sunset has already begun with some networks (Image Source).

What Does the 3G Sunset Mean for Australian Fleets?

The 3G sunset means all fleets need to replace any 3G-reliant devices before networks switch off. Depending on your fleet tracking provider, you may be entitled to a free upgrade. Get in touch with your company to find out if you’re eligible.

There is a little bit of time before the shutdown begins. However, it’s better to start thinking about it sooner rather than later. This will give you more time to consider your options and think about what’s best for your fleet.

Are There Benefits to Upgrading My Devices?

Aside from the faster connection that comes with 4G LTE and 5G, upgrading your devices makes good business sense.

New technology brings new benefits: better features, higher processing power, lower latency, more storage, and improved reliability that makes it easier to handle complex services and collect detailed data across your fleet, such as GPS tracking information. This gives you the ability to complete a more thorough analysis of your fleet’s performance, leading to better business decisions and increased cost savings. It’s also a good time to assess whether satellite modems need to be added or removed, depending on how long each of your devices spends in or out of network connectivity.

A bar graph showing a users average 5G download speeds in comparison to 4G download speeds.

5G speeds will be substantially faster than 3G and 4G LTE (Image Source).

How do I Prepare for the 3G Sunset?

Smart fleet managers prioritise planning. To help you out, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

1.    Take an inventory of all your devices

Make a list of all your devices, including which vehicles have which device type. If you’re not sure, your supplier should be able to help you work out which will be at risk of zero services once the shutdown begins.

2.    Plan a device switchover timetable

Some devices may be nearing the end of their life anyway – so make this process as cost-effective as possible. Track when devices are due to be replaced and update the technology accordingly. Identifying these should mean you update your devices at a time that’s aligned with their scheduled replacement.

3.    Keep 4G-and-up devices separate

Take note of any assets that won’t be affected by the changeover and make sure they’re kept separate from any updating.

4.    Work with suppliers to develop a changeover plan

It’s important to work with a supplier you trust to help get you ready and compliant when new rules come into play. This includes installation, activation, rolling out the new technology, and disposing of old, defunct devices.

Looking Into a New Dawn

The 3G sunset is a great time to take stock of all your fleet assets and devices and plan for the future. It’s also a good opportunity to reach out to your supplier to discuss your telematics systems and if there are areas for improvement in how you currently utilise your assets.

Perhaps there are more beneficial features – or maybe there’s a better way to leverage your tech to run your fleet more efficiently. Preparing for the road ahead can save you from being left behind later. It can also help you get ahead of the competition before the sun sets.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself:

  • Which assets will I need to replace?
  • What are the costs and will they fit my budget?
  • Will there need to be downtime to install the new hardware?
  • How will the transition affect the business?
  • Who will I put in charge of the upgrade?
  • What is my timeline for full replacement and how can I ensure I’m ready?

We’re Here to Help

Fleet Complete’s experts are on hand to help your fleet prepare for the 3G sunset. From scheduling orders of new devices and activating and installing them to deactivating old units and removing them – we’re here to help ensure your changeover is seamless and fuss-free. Get started today by trying out our Fleet Complete demo.

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Date published.   Jul 23, 2021  |  Author: Marketing FC