3G cellular technology has had a pretty good run. In 2001 the service began popping up in limited areas, and shortly thereafter the demand for 3G allowed the carriers to build the service out quickly. Along the way there were plenty of upgrades to the service that extended its life while allowing us all to get connected to our cellular service in a way that was completely unheard of before. People began using the service to make video calls, watch TV, and use services like Facebook, all from their smartphones.
But time does march on. The relatively new 4G service is becoming the default for most devices that are released into the marketplace, for the simple reason that 4G is both faster and more efficient. And now, as the 5G build-out begins, it is getting more and more difficult for the carriers to justify keeping their 3G services operations.
AT&T and Verizon have already announced their scheduled sunset dates for 3G services. AT&T are stopping new activations on the 3G network effective June 30, 2019, but have committed to keeping the 3G network operational through the end of 2021. Verizon’s timeline is shorter. They stopped allowing new activations on June 30, 2018, and will deactivate their 3G network at the end of 2019.
Bottom line is that changes are coming soon. While niche devices like GPS Trackers and Fleet Telematic units are usually last to upgrade, onPoint Connect is already offering 4G units and will be switching exclusively to 4G hardware as quickly as we can. How long will we get to keep the 4G network? It’s hard to predict, but my guess is we’ll have 4G around for at least a decade.