3G to the Wind

The 3G shutdown fast approaches. The time to plan for it is now.
Telematics can help with faster trips for logistics operators.

During the past decade, two telecommunication trends overlapped: 3G mobile phone handsets were superseded by faster 4G standards, and the Internet of Things (IoT) began to take off.

The Internet of Things, or IoT is, as its name suggests, devices that are not traditional computers or mobile handsets connected to the cloud.

These can be remote sensors, factory equipment or, for heavy vehicle fleets, the telematics systems used to improve efficiency, monitor driver behaviour and boost safety.

Telematics and other fleet management solutions are essentially IoT applications, connecting remote and mobile devices to the internet through the cellular network.

However, while mobile handsets have largely left the 3G network behind, many IoT devices still use the outdated system. It’s estimated that there are approximately one per cent or 3 million devices out there actively using the network.

These include phones, EFTPOS machines, cars, tablets, security cameras, and most importantly, fleet management technologies.

For fleet operators, this creates an urgency to upgrade telematics systems, as Telstra and all other providers begin to shut down their 3G network on 30 June, 2024, or little more than 200 days away.

The time for planning is over, it’s time to get into action according to Andrew Rossington, Chief Product Officer, Teletrac Navman.

“If you don’t migrate your telematics, and all other IoT technologies to 4G-powered equipment, you will lose the ability to monitor your fleet and use the data generated to improve operational efficiency, coach driver behaviour, and have a safer operation,” he says.

“Do your future self a favour by starting your migration to 4G. As the shutdown quickly approaches, demand for equipment and installers will increase. If you’re not thinking about it now, there’s a real danger you and your operation could be left without functioning telematics systems come June 30.”

As the busy Christmas season approaches, many operators can’t afford to have their fleets off the road for upgrades during this profitable time.

The critical action therefore is to begin the process.

Andrew suggests that operators book in the upgrades early next year when things begin to slow down.

“You’ll need to assess how many devices you have in your fleet and around your operations centre — think security systems, cameras, mobile phones, point of sale,” he says. “One operator, for example, has a 3G-enabled IoT device controlling the gates and access to their yard. If this device isn’t upgraded, there’s no way for the operator to keep their business running, as trucks won’t be able to get in or out quickly and securely.”

It’s not all bad news, however. 4G technology offers faster, higher bandwidth connections.

This means managers and owner-operators can get more data about their fleet and drivers in real-time, which will, more to the point, last a very long time.

The opportunities behind future-proofing will lead to greater operational efficiencies, fuel savings, improved driver behaviour and coaching, and an increased focus on a safety-first business culture says Andrew.

“4G telematics solutions also use artificial intelligence, or AI, for tasks like speed and street sign recognition, warning drivers if they’re engaging in harsh manoeuvring or braking or following traffic ahead of them too closely,” he explains.

“These technologies mean your drivers are empowered to make better decisions on the road, contributing to improved safety for themselves and other road users.”

Further information about the closure of the 3G network can be found on the Telstra website. Otherwise fleets can begin their migration journey with Teletrac Navman at: www.teletracnavman.com/support/customer-support.

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