The Finale of 3G: Its Departing Impact on Trucking and How Fleets Must Adapt

Behemoth mobile wireless carriers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, are retiring their 3G cellular networks. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), each company has its own plans and timing on when it will phase out 3G services, however most of them will shut down these networks throughout early 2022. The latest being T-Mobile, who plans to pull the plug by July.

Unsurprisingly, relieving 3G of its duties comes as mobile carriers denote their efforts towards more advanced network services, notably 5G. This transition was bound to happen as carriers aim to free up spectrum and infrastructure to support these newer technologies.

In other words, older technology, such as cellphones, will become obsolete and dated. Users cannot rely on making or receiving calls and texts. Essentially, these devices are fated to become relics of the past.

Impact on the Trucking Industry

Data from ABI Research, a technology intelligence firm, reveals a staggering 350,000 Class 8 (commercial heavy-duty trucks) vehicles will be effected by the discontinuation of 3G services. Trucks, and drivers who operate them, crucially rely on electronic logging devices (ELDs) and video telematics. If these modules and devices request 3G voice and data-only services, fleets will have to negotiate the realities of their technologies being compromised.

That said, in its research, ABI further contests of the 3.97 million Class 8 trucks in the U.S., around 3.8 million are employed by smaller fleets, who are more likely to have delayed transitions from 3G to 4G devices. Susan Beardslee of ABI asserts that with no transition in place, fleets are at serious risk to compliance, safety, vehicle health, and operational capability challenges.

Courtesy of Yahoo Finance, Beardslee goes on to implore critical issues that stem from 3G becoming obsolete. “When the devices no longer function, drivers cannot digitally track their Hours of Service. Considering that driver fatigue tops the list of road dangers, [3G discontinuing] severely impacts ELD compliance and road safety.”

How Fleets Must Adapt Amid 3G Retirement

The trucking industry not rolling out newer technologies soon enough poses a significant challenge. For an industry that moves approximately 72.5 percent of the nation’s freight (by weight), this could fan the flames of an already warped supply chain.

With added pressure to national supply chains, trucking carriers have hastily begun to evaluate their own technology and hardware to lessen the blow the 3G phaseout has on their operations. Courtesy of Supply Chain Brain, fleets are advised, after evaluating their technology infrastructure, to plan ahead and create a plan than can effectively guide their company, along with their employees, through the transition away from 3G.

Furthermore, fleets should work closely with technology providers and draft up a timetable for when 3G devices will be phased out with newer replacements. With that in mind, fleets must also recognize an ample amount of time is required to install up-to-date hardware and technology within its operations.

Final Thoughts

With 3G withering away, it seems another burden has been placed on a trucking industry already smitten with other issues. However, in the long run, a departure from 3G towards newer and more advanced networks unlocks possibilities for more efficient fleets. Courtesy of Supply Chain Brain, fleets will have access to: higher bandwidth and data speeds; extended wireless network coverage; wider coverage range; and lower latency. Surely, there is anxiety over being forced to carry over, but ultimately, trucking carriers will benefit from doing so.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our team members if you have any further questions on this topic or any others in domestic logistics.

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