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    If you have customers with intrusion alarm systems, fire alarm systems and life safety systems that still use 3G technology, it's time to start thinking about transitioning them to 4G or 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology. The migration to 4G will affect any communication device that uses a 3G cellular network, including alarm control panels, fire GSM radios and communicatorscellular boosters and alarm communicators.

    As cellular service providers begin to shut down their 3G networks, these devices will no longer be able to communicate with the monitoring center, so products that use the outdated technology may experience issues that will compromise protection or the ability to summon help in an emergency.

    Keep reading to understand what this means for you as a low-voltage installer.

    What is the 3G sunset?

    The 3G sunset is the phrase mobile network operators and carriers use in reference to the switch from 3G and CDMA network technology to 4G and 5G network technology, essentially shutting down cellular infrastructure required to operate 3G communication devices.

    Once the transition is completed, carriers will stop supporting the devices that are currently using a 3G network. This means those devices and products will no longer work properly. This transition affects products within the intrusion, enterprise connectivity, fire and communication categories.

    So why are network carriers making the change? As newer wireless technologies emerge, they need to turn off older, slower networks like 2G and 3G to add more capacity to expand their 4G LTE and 5G networks.

    What is 4G and how is it better?

    The G in 4G stands for generation, so 4G is the fourth generation of cellular network technology. In some cases, you may see or hear the term 4G LTE. The term LTE applies more generally to the idea of improving wireless broadband speeds to meet increasing demand; 4G LTE is faster than 4G but slower than true 4G.

    Some of the benefits of newer 4G products and devices include:

    • Faster communication
    • Better frequencies to penetrate walls and buildings
    • Longer lifespan
    • Improved, real-time connectivity to apps used to control alarm systems

    When will the 3G sunset take effect?

    Carriers have established different timelines for to the sunsetting of their 3G networks, and some initial deadlines have since been delayed, but as of early 2021, the planned sunset dates from the three major carriers are:

    • AT&T: February 2022
    • Verizon: January 2023
    • T-Mobile: Reportedly sometime in 2022, but no concrete date yet

    It's important to note, however, that two of these carriers have already stopped accepting new activations for 3G devices. So, it's only a matter of time before you'll need to make sure your customers' systems are compatible with 4G networks.

    What the 3G sunset means for installers

    Alarm system and life safety system installers should consider which of their clients have older products or devices that still operate on a 3G network. Since those devices will no longer communicate with the monitoring center, they will need to be upgraded.

    It’s better to begin the process of upgrading outdated devices now than to wait until the deadline. This avoids service interruptions and keeps your clients' businesses, homes and lives protected.

    How to prepare for the transition

    So how can installers prepare for the 3G sunset? Here are a few things you can start doing now:

    1. Compile a list of customers who have existing products or devices using 3G technology.
    2. Be proactive and start reaching out to those customers to explain why they need to upgrade to 4G.
    3. As you are working out in the field on other installs, proactively check your customers' alarm systems for any possible compatibility issues, so you can upgrade their systems now.
    4. For any new installs, use products and devices with the newer 4G technology. Once the sunset is complete, older 3G devices will no longer work or may not function properly.

    Those are just a few steps you can take to help make sure your customers have the right technology and equipment to let their intrusion alarm system, fire alarm system or life safety system keep providing the protection they need. The sunset can affect business or corporate clients as well as residential customers, so make sure to consider both.

    Whether you need alarm system products for your residential customers or business clients, our team of experts can help you transition 3G to 4G technology on all your installs. If you need further assistance finding the right products through the transition, contact our Systems Design team today.

    Preparing for the 3G Sunset Webinar

    With the 3G sunset coming next year, now is the time to prepare for the transition to 4G LTE. Watch this webinar replay to understand what this means for your customers and learn how to plan for the migration.

    Register now
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