by Timothy West
If your vehicle tracking devices are among the millions still operating on a 3G wireless network in North America, it’s time for an upgrade.
In 2022, most wireless network operators are shutting down their 3G networks — AKA the 3G sunset — to deploy faster 4G and 5G networks. 4G networks are 500 times faster than 3G, and 5G networks can be up to 100 times faster than 4G. The lifespan of each generation lasts approximately a decade. Once a wireless provider shuts down its 3G network, all devices need to be 4G or 5G compatible to operate as expected.
Explore further with our "What the 3G Sunset Means" Infographic.
Now is an ideal time to upgrade your tracking devices — alternatively called fleet telematics or GPS devices — not only to avoid service disruptions but also to take advantage of quicker download speeds and data transfer. As long as you upgrade your devices before your network provider completes its 3G sunset, you’ll continue receiving actionable vehicle and driver data, even faster than before.
As a quick refresher, GPS tracking helps businesses:
- Confirm vehicle location and usage in near real time
- Identify operational inefficiencies like unnecessary idle time
- Detect unsafe behavior like speeding, sharp turns, and harsh braking
- Use landmarks to monitor and optimize customer service levels
When will 3G networks stop working?
Most wireless network operators are expected to shut down their 3G networks by the end of 2022. Your 3G telematics devices will stop working within a few months if they haven’t already.
How does the 3G sunset impact fleets?
As long as you upgrade your fleet tracking devices to 4G or 5G compatibility, your business will continue to receive access to vehicle and driver data, the ability to track vehicle location, and all the other telematics features you’re used to. The beauty of this upgrade is that the speed at which you’d been receiving that data will now be amplified.
Upgrading GPS devices is especially important if you use them to comply with regulations like IFTA or ELD mandates. If you don’t upgrade, you’ll lose access to fleet telematics data and risk violating compliance regulations. And you may pay for telematics and cellular services that don’t work.
How do I prepare for the 3G sunset?
Take inventory of your active GPS devices and identify those that are not at least 4G compatible. Those need upgrading. From there, find replacement devices and associated installation options and schedule installation times. Complete the replacement process as soon as possible - you’ll want to have this upgrade completed by the end of 2022.
WEX offers the only program that allows fleets to integrate their WEX-issued fleet card data with their fleet telematics solution free of charge. WEX’s Premium GPS Services combine technology, data analytics, and 24/7 U.S.-based customer service to bring you the ultimate telematics program. By seamlessly integrating your fleet card and telematics data you'll immediately identify fuel savings opportunities and spot potential fraudulent purchases. Optional in-cab cameras protect drivers from false accident claims and protect your bottom line.
WEX is offering a number of options to replace 3G fleet tracking devices for both new and existing customers. Call a trusted advisor today to learn more.
Is there anything I should do after replacing 3G telematics devices?
Always check your GPS data and make sure it's coming through as expected. Other than that, you should continue receiving the actionable data you rely on from your upgraded fleet telematics devices.
As the 3G sunset continues throughout the remainder of 2022, it’s imperative to keep your GPS devices in operation. Identify must-replace units, change them over, and continue using available technology and data analytics to keep your employees and bottom line safe.
Bipartisan Policy Center
Federal Communications Commission