The Death of 2G a Challenge for M2M

By Mae Kowalke September 30, 2013

Smartphone users may be hurdling toward 4G adoption and hardly remember 2G at this point, but businesses with machine-to-machine (M2M) technology certainly have not forgotten.

There will be an estimated 123 million M2M devices worldwide by 2016, according to ABI Research. While some of these devices will be ready for 4G, much M2M still relies upon the older 2G technology.

News of the move away from 2G cellular networks poses a substantial challenge for many enterprises that must update their M2M devices.

AT&T recently announced that it will shut down its 2G network by 2017, fueling speculation from ABI Research and others that this will help the cellular offerings of Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile as they pick up the slack, as we reported two weeks ago.

 “While many carriers are opting to drop 2G, it’s still just as critical as 4G, LTE and other networks, depending on your use case,” wrote Rachel Ramsey in an August IoTevolutionworld article. “In fact, Sprint is expanding its low bandwidth division to continue offering 2G to customers.”

These are short-term moves, however. Even among carriers that still offer 2G, the writing is on the wall and it more is a case of moving customers in the right direction. Even if businesses switch carriers to continue using their 2G-enabled M2M receivers, the move away from 2G is still coming.

"Verizon and Sprint will take all the 2G business they can get but their goal is to move 2G customers to 3G and 4G technologies,” noted ABI’s San Shey. “The dilemma is how to move dedicated 2G customers to 3G and 4G connections.”

All this highlights one challenge with M2M: How to future-proof equipment so it can stay in the field longer.

The redesign and retrofitting of current 2G devices is a challenge on many fronts and has increased the concern about the lifespan of and future changes in wireless connectivity options and its impact on the bottom line.

A webinar on Oct. 7 by Numerex and IoTevolutionworld addresses this topic. Entitled “M2M Solutions – Protecting Your Business When Transitioning from 2G to AnyG,” the free webinar will look at how to future-proof M2M hardware designs and reduce the related cost and shorten time lines when transitioning to new technologies. It will also address how a multicarrier network provider can ease wireless technology transitions, and will offer up a case study of an M2M provider that has successfully navigated the 2G sunset.

The end of 2G is coming, and businesses that use M2M need to be ready for it.

Edited by Alisen Downey

IoTevolutionworld Contributor

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