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The planned sunset of 3G poses a challenge for construction business owners and fleet managers who have depended on the network to power technology that helps with tracking vehicles and assets, managing their workforce and promoting safety. As this migration takes place, it’s time for these decision makers to do the same and bring their fleets up to speed with newer and more robust network technology.

A telecom provider’s digital real estate is known as “spectrum,” and there is only so much room on that spectrum. As more advanced networks roll out nationwide, cellular providers are planning to sunset 3G to free up bandwidth to accommodate higher demand—including increased data requirements and faster speeds for 4G and 5G networks. With this change, construction managers using fleet management technology can see many benefits that come along with technology running on newer network technology.

This transition, however, will impact every fleet manager across the United States that is still using fleet management technology running on 3G mobile networks. In fact, some cellular providers have already switched off 3G network access.

Regardless of network provider or device or deadline, the transition to more advanced network technologies should deliver fleet managers a range of important benefits. These benefits include broader wireless network coverage, higher bandwidth and data speeds, lower latency, as well as greater compatibility with the latest cellular technologies.

Revving up fleet capabilities

 While the expected phaseout may shake the status quo for fleet managers and drivers, the transition to newer networks is expected to improve the experience of newer technologies like AI, machine learning, video telematics, and more with the benefit of lower latency and higher bandwidth.

The expansion of these networks enabling more powerful technology with faster download speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity is just part of a larger digital evolution that is likely to improve the operational agility and efficiency of many fleet companies, regardless of fleet size or geographic distribution.

For example, tracking features using 4G LTE can increase the frequency of near real-time vehicle location updates on a live map, more accurately informing fleet managers of the location of their vehicles and assets—and opening the door for future 5G opportunities. Other capabilities such as predictive vehicle maintenance, remote tracking, smarter fuel tracking and dashcams to monitor for driver safety are greatly enhanced with 4G LTE networks.

The time is now

For fleet managers who haven’t already made the switch from 3G, there is still time to start implementing a migration plan and ensure they can roll out devices compatible with newer networks. To prepare for the transition to 4G LTE and beyond, fleet managers should determine the timeline for anticipated 3G sunset and any requirements based on their unique business size and makeup. With the transition from 3G quickly approaching, the time is now to take inventory of vehicles and devices that are currently on a 3G network.

Depending on the size of their fleet and how their vehicles are dispersed in the field, the transition can be a relatively simple week or two transition for those with a few dozen vehicles. However, fleet managers responsible for more complex operations with thousands of vehicles and multiple depots, numerous office locations, and employees whose vehicles are located at their homes will want to allocate up to eight weeks for a successful migration.

Farther down the road

With the transition from 3G well underway, transitioning to 4G LTE is a logical next step, while 5G offers the potential to open up even more capabilities in the future. With 5G, drivers will be able to change course due to a disruption along with the traffic and communicate this information with the entire fleet almost instantly. Fleet managers should be able to monitor all assets in near real-time and help reduce risks related to asset safety, and transfer messages to all vehicles in the fleet, letting drivers assist each other in certain situations.

With advanced routing and telematics, 5G should also support training of new drivers, pre-trip planning, analyzing driver behavior, decreasing delay and response times, optimizing vehicle charging times, and increasing savings on fleet operations. The result should be a leaner, more cost-efficient business model with technology that helps save money now and sets the stage for responding to unexpected market disruptions, such as COVID-19.

Regardless of where fleet managers are in the transition process, it’s an exciting time to discover and unleash the capabilities of advanced network technologies. As these networks add new features and capabilities, construction managers will see how technology can continue to improve business practices and bring their business into the future.


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