2G/3G Discontinuation

Making way for future Radio Access Technologies.

From the physical side, the radio frequency spectrum used for wireless communication is a very sparse, limited but valuable resource. Each country/region through the world uses and optimizes this common spectrum differently, but the same physical limitations apply.
As new, more advanced, and powerful mobile radio network technologies emerge, older standards make way for future deployments. Current mobile Radio Access Technologies (RAT) range from 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS), 4G (LTE) including NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M to the most recent fifth generation 5G. The advancements in 4G and 5G provide simpler, scalable network structures and are more optimized for IoT and future-driven use cases compared to 2G and 3G. As a result, many Mobile Network Operators (MNO) decided to discontinue 2G and/or 3G to make space in the radio frequency bands for 4G and 5G deployments.

Migrating to Future-Proof Technologies

Early on mobile IoT device integrations used 2G/3G RATs as primary network resource. Today, many deployed IoT devices still use older RATs as fallback solution as new radio standards (e.g., NB-IoT and LTE-M/Cat-M) start to be deployed. This is backed by the usage statistics we see in the 1NCE Network. While in the European Region 2G still is the dominating standard for IoT applications, the adaption and demand for 4G/LTE with NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M is increasing significantly as availably of affordable modem hardware and international network coverage grows.

As most IoT device integrations aim for long-term deployment, device developers and manufactures need to be on the lookout for ongoing radio resource reallocations in mobile networks. It is all about choosing the right radio technology for future usage. From the SIM card perspective, the 1NCE SIM cards support all Radio Access Technologies (2G, 3G, 4G, Cat-M and NB-IoT). To future-prove IoT hardware devices, 1NCE recommends the usage of 4G and the related LTE Cat-M and NB-IoT modem hardware wherever it is possible. 2G and 3G are good alternatives to use for providing a fallback in case of a 4G outage but should ideally not be considered main point of future IoT connectivity.

Upcoming 2G (GSM) & 3G (UMTS) Discontinuations

Different countries and regions follow different shutdown/sunset/discontinuation patterns when it comes to mobile radio networks. In European Region, mostly 3G (UMTS) services are shut down and 2G (GSM) radio coverage is preserved due to fallback and emergency service use cases. In the US, Asia and Australia, the focus on freeing up radio resources lies on 2G (GSM) network resources.

As 1NCE IoT SIM connectivity relies on their roaming partners for local radio coverage, the overall coverage and available Radio Access Technologies are impacted by the local shutdowns. The list below provides an overview of upcoming changes due to discontinuations in the 1NCE Coverage.

Country/RegionNetwork Operator2G (GSM)3G (UMTS)
ChinaChina Unicom31.12.2021-
Czech RepublicT-Mobile-31.12.2021
DenmarkTelenor A/S-31.07.2022
Great BritainEE-31.12.2021
HungaryMagyar-Q2 2022
LuxembourgPost Luxembourg-31.07.2022
MalaysiaDigi und U Mobile-31.12.2021
Slovak RepublicSlocak Telekom-31.12.2021
United Arab EmiratesDU-22.02.2022
USAT-Mobile USA-01.07.2022

Please review the 1NCE Coverage Map to get an up to date view of the available country and access technology coverage.

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