The 3G Sunset

Navigating the transition to 4G networks is best done early before the planned switch by Telstra is underway.

In the transport industry, connected devices, including telematics systems, keep operations moving smoothly.

They help operators communicate with staff, monitor safety and fatigue, ensure compliance, optimise workflow, track vehicles and assets, in addition to so much more.

However, a significant shift is on the horizon: Telstra will sunset its 3G network in June 2024.

While smartphones will be a primary concern during the 3G closure, any device communicating via a 3G SIM card will be affected.

This means in-vehicle technologies that are a critical part of a transport businesses’ fleet management solution must be migrated to at least 4G technologies.

To keep the benefits of connected devices and telematics systems, it’s best to start the switch as early as possible according to Andrew Rossington, Chief Product Officer, Teletrac Navman.

“Connected devices rely on stable and reliable network connections for real-time monitoring, efficient communication, safety tracking, and compliance management,” he says. “As Telstra phases out its 3G network, devices relying on this technology will lose connectivity, potentially disrupting critical fleet operations.”

The transition from 3G to the faster, more efficient 4G networks is more than an upgrade. 4G-enabled tech offers more speed and connectivity, creating new opportunities to streamline and improve efficiency.

These include increases in profit thanks to reduced fuel usage, less vehicle wear and tear, lower maintenance costs and safer drivers.

Real-time monitoring, route optimisation, safety analytics, and compliance management – all essential components of modern fleet operations – heavily depend on network reliability and speed.

The closure of Telstra’s 3G network, among all other network providers, means any devices operating on this technology will cease functioning. A smooth transition is vital to avoid disruptions in operations and to harness these advanced networks’ benefits according to Andrew.

“Begin by conducting a thorough inventory of all devices within your fleet that rely on 3G connectivity,” he says. “Take stock of your 3G-only devices, then use Telstra’s calculator to plan your migration of the 3G network and calculate your run rate.”

For those with 200 3G devices, they must migrate 13 devices per month, or three devices per week, before the 3G network shuts down. Creating a comprehensive migration plan that considers the number of devices to transition and the specific needs of the fleet is another option.

“If you need more or different functionality, it’s an ideal time to check out all the options on the market,” says Andrew. “Improved safety and security features are available in newer mobile technologies, such as better encryption and authentication mechanisms, which can help protect your assets and people.”

Andrew Rossington.

It’s also a good idea to allocate resources and schedule the transition to minimise operational disruptions.

Factors like data usage and coverage should be weighed up before cost while communication with all team members will ensure they know about the upcoming transition and its implications.

Training for these new devices will be key. According to Andrew utilising these enhanced capabilities will further benefit the transport team in the future.

“As your fleet takes on day-to-day activities, two-way communication with operators and satellite communications, even in remote locations, ensures your team is always connected,” he says. “This active connection to the office means your workforce can reach each other in emergencies.”

There are also significant benefits to newer mobile technologies, including faster speeds and improved connectivity.

Fast and super reliable connectivity improves communication between different parts of the supply chain and helps to reduce delays and improve efficiency.

Real-time data in any traffic or weather conditions, for example, and other factors can be transmitted more quickly and reliably.

New technologies also have improved security protocols, such as better encryption and authentication mechanisms. This helps improve transport systems’ safety and security, protecting passengers and cargo.

AI-powered telematics systems have the capability to process vast quantities of data, converting it into valuable insights for enhancing safety, efficiency, and compliance in real-time. Some of the newer features require lots of bandwidth, so moving to 4G-ready tracking units means it’s easier for businesses to roll out the latest technology.

Converting from 3G-only devices to 4G-enabled tech may be seen as a problem for another day, overshadowed by concerns about driver shortages, rising fuel costs and the everyday challenges of fleet management.

But, according to Andrew, it’s important to consider that thousands of businesses across Australia will need to migrate – not just in the transport industry but across every sector – meaning demand for 4G-enabled tech will increase as the June 2024 cut-off date approaches.

“Our Professional Services Team works with clients to implement Teletrac Navman solutions to help customers monitor, measure, improve, and deliver complete customer satisfaction,” he says.

“With experience across mining, construction, health, fast-moving goods and transport, the team successfully delivers end-to-end deployment for large fleets and enterprise projects with insights specific to your sector and organisation.”

Prepare for the shift from 3G by migrating with Teletrac Navman to future-proof your transport business.

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