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2G – Going, Going, Gone!

The upcoming advent of 2G ending puts me in mind of the Y2K Bug panic across the world – with one small difference. There appears to be no 2G panic!  I’m not one for an all-out, unnecessary panic but some mild scrutiny and contemplation of possible consequences would make me feel more confident that the general population is taking this seriously.

But we are fielding some calls from clients who have previously installed 2G bandwidth products – both GSM gateways and M2M products – asking about upgrades and how they go about it. This has generally been in response to contact from Optus or Telstra – both of whom are undertaking to notify their prepaid and account holders that the 900Mhz band will be decommissioned starting December 2016.

The 2G decommissioning schedule is:

  • Telstra’s 2G network will be discontinued on 1 December 2016.
  • Optus’s 2G network will shut down on from 1 April 2017.
  • Vodafone’s 2G network closedown is 30 September 2017.

What is the 2G GSM Network?

2G mobile technology is second generation technology that has been in operation for more than 20 years. It was the first digital cellular network launched in Australia in the early 1990’s and provides basic voice and text messaging services.  At the time it also offered better sound quality, security and improved capacity.

With only a fraction of Telstra/Optus/Vodafone customers still using 2G services, flipping the switch to off makes a lot of sense for the carriers.

If you hold a device that is enabled with 3G or 4G, you won’t be affected.  But there are a large number of 2G devices still out there happily chugging along quite unaware that come 1st December (1st April/30th September) they will not wake up!

2G network shut down

To aid comprehension, it may be of interest to know that well over 50% of M2M products are still utilising 2G networks.  And a similar percentage also applies to the number of 2G gateways that are still in use around Australia.

2G Products

While you won’t have problems with most phones, if you were an early adopter of a smart phone – say a trendsetting Nana – you may still hold a well-loved 2G Nokia “Nana” model. If you own any phone of the flip variety head straight to the phone shop and treat yourself to a new model.

The 2G closure impact will mainly be felt in the M2M and the Gateway sectors (also known as Fixed Wireless Terminals or Low Cost Routing).

There is one reason both these areas still have a large proportion of 2G equipment still running – very simply it’s due to cost.

Gateways are extremely popular in Australia.  Originally intended to work with PABX systems to allow them greater flexibility, it was quickly recognised that they could be utilised to take advantage of cheaper mobile phone plans to reduce expensive landline phone bills for business’.

With regards to the M2M space, 2G modems are cheaper than 3G. In addition M2M usage is typically light and generally doesn’t need the speeds and bandwidths that come along with 3G/4G.  Plus M2M installs generally take place in the more remote areas where the staff costs for an upgrade may be extremely expensive.

The general layperson may not fully understand M2M usage but in a nutshell it is technology that enables networked devices to exchange information and perform actions without any manual intervention.  M2M technology allows sensors to communicate and transfer data.  While the business world will definitely be affected, especially the GPS tracking industry, it’s of note that there are thousands of 2G automated house gates/garage doors in Australia.


What Can You Do?

Obviously all your 2G devices will need updating.  If you are operating off a sim card via your 2G device, you should already have been contacted by one of the carriers. But it would be worth checking your modem or gateway to see what bandwidth they work on. You may have moved and slipped through the cracks.

The rule of thumb is that if your modem, gateway or otherwise was installed over 3 years ago (and you tend to go for a cheaper option) then it’s probable you are using 2G GSM bandwidth. Just get them checked out – better safe than a day off work hunting down a replacement modem so your kids aren’t stuck outside your house because your front gate doesn’t work. Google the serial numbers or speak to your installer/manufacturer to confirm.

Act accordingly and upgrade before it’s too late.

And maybe your trendy Nana is not going to do this, so do a good deed this week and also check your Nana’s phone.

For more information on 3G & 4G gateways or M2M devices, speak to Powertec today for a referral to an expert in your area today! Phone 07 5577 0500

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