Skip Navigation
BlackBerry Blog

What Is the Impact of 3G Sunsetting in the U.S. on Asset Tracking Solutions?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our supply chain came under pressure–and has yet to rebound. Moving goods and stocking shelves has presented major challenges for transportation organizations. Workers on the back end continue to use asset tracking solutions to monitor shipment progress and assist in finding methods to help streamline processes and alleviate logistics issues.

Unfortunately, as everyone is trying to get supply chain woes under control, there is another potential issue for those in the U.S.: 3G connectivity is sunsetting and many electronic logging devices, asset tracking solutions, and communication devices dependent on 3G could be adversely impacted very soon.  

Why is 3G Going Away?

As newer technology continues to be introduced throughout 2022, wireless carriers in the U.S. are reducing support of older 3G technology to make room for newer 4G and 5G network advancements. While many organizations and individuals have already migrated to 4G and 5G platforms, and more will continue to do so this year, network bandwidth demand will continue to grow to support these new users–leaving less available for those still on 3G. 

The Importance of Acting Sooner Than Later

3G sunsetting is happening in segments, as carriers are staggering the dates of their migration to ease the transition for everyone involved. The current timeline offered by carriers is as follows: 

  • February 2022: AT&T
  • April 2022: Sprint
  • July 2022: T-Mobile
  • December 2022: Verizon

Despite network connectivity evolving and changing, many transportation organizations still use 3G technology in certain asset tracking devices and will wait until the last minute to do anything about it. This procrastination will create a pressured upgrade situation. In turn, this can cause an influx in sales, drive up costs, and lead to a reduction in inventory. It’s important to note that when 3G bandwidths are migrating, connectivity for those devices and applications remaining on 3G will slow down and become congested.

Things to Consider When Upgrading

As you make the step toward getting your fleet’s asset tracking system upgraded, there are a few things to consider: 

Current Operations. Intuitive technology that easily integrates into your existing business software will take less time to implement and deploy. A solution with an open API and compatibility with existing transportation software is a good place to start. A sometimes-overlooked area when implementing a new solution is staff training. Check that the asset tracking supplier offers training and technical support to ensure your new tracking solution is up and running quickly, and your staff is comfortable using it straight away.

Total Cost of Ownership. Incurred costs don’t just stop at installing the units on your assets. The lifetime costs of a solution should also be considered. What is the expected lifespan of the unit? Are the units reliable within that lifespan? Does the manufacturer invest in upgrades in functionality to keep solutions up to date? If a battery fails does the entire unit have to be replaced or can the battery be replaced at a fractional cost? What warranty is offered? Does the solution provider have a lease program? These factors should be considered to understand the total costs of running an asset tracking solution over the longer term.

Return on Investment. Buying a new asset tracking solution can be expensive, so looking to the overall return on your investment is the right way to understand the overall cost. A good tracking solution will provide you with the right business insights to make your business more agile and efficient, giving you a faster return and a stronger bottom line. Tracking these efficiencies to understand the return is a function of the solution software. Whether you’re looking to reduce demurrage fees, recover stolen assets and cargo, build a more efficient maintenance program, or drive better asset utilization overall – these efficiencies can all be tracked using the visibility of an asset tracking solution.

Performing due diligence before making a transition helps ensure that the upgrade process will go smoothly.

What to Look for in a New Asset Tracking System

Equipping fleets with a new asset tracking system can pay big dividends for transportation organizations–if they choose the right system. Technology has advanced considerably since the advent of 3G options. Newer systems are generally faster and more reliable. Upon upgrading to an advanced network, many businesses have discovered that their prior operations were not running at optimum performance. 

Here are some important areas to focus on when comparing new systems:

Fast Installation. A key reason why organizations hesitate to make a move is potential fleet downtime. With the right asset tracking system, however, unit installation takes less than 10 minutes, and can be easily performed by most anyone. 

Constant Connectivity. Asset tracking software systems can be powered in different ways. Some are wired into the tractor trailer's battery, only giving access to data when the vehicle is on and running. Others are solar-powered, which means it needs access to sunlight. Battery-operated connectivity with long battery life is the most convenient option. You will have to choose based on what will work best for your operational needs. 

Durability and Reliability. A tracking system needs to withstand anything that comes its way. It has to be durable to remain reliable, so consider choosing trackers that can withstand extreme weather conditions and other types of rugged situations. 

Easy-to-Use Dashboard. Imagine having the ability to see everything that is going on with your assets, all from a single dashboard. Look for a system that allows you to monitor GPS location in real time, see how well your space is being utilized, monitor how many times the door to cargo is opened, and more.

Accurate Reporting. Along with this dashboard and all its information, you’ll need access to reports and performance markers that can help you make educated decisions about your business, ensuring the greatest opportunity for success. 

The ability to track assets and get them from where they are to where they need to be – in their entirety – as fast and as efficiently as possible, is the overall goal. The right asset tracking software system can help you achieve it. 

Utilize Better Connectivity with BlackBerry Radar

The BlackBerry Radar® asset tracking system is here to help, with many features to let you manage containers, chassis, trailers, or railcars in the most effective manner. Let us show you how easy it is to get the BlackBerry Radar solution up and running for your organization.

Contact the BlackBerry Radar team today to schedule a demo or obtain a quote.

Christopher Plaat

About Christopher Plaat

Christopher Plaat is Senior Vice President & General Manager, BlackBerry Radar