The radio spectrum is finite, so with the advent of new technologies, we knew the day would finally arrive when the old technologies had to go.
|Country||Network||2G Sunset||3G Sunset|
|United Kingdom||O2||Planned 31/12/2021||Planned 31/12/2021|
|United Kingdom||EE||Planned 31/12/2025||Planned 31/12/2021|
|United Kingdom||Vodafone||Planned 31/12/2025||Planned 31/12/2022|
|Ireland||Vodafone||Planned 31/12/2025||Planned 31/12/2023|
|Ireland||Liffey (Tesco)||Planned 1/10/2025||Planned 1/4/2023|
|Ireland||3||Planned 1/10/2025||Planned 1/4/2023|
When 4G was rolled out nationally we suddenly noticed a problem with some of our 2G installations. What had worked before now struggled to get a good signal. Weirdly we also found the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) on some of these installations was OK. Not great but OK.
What had happened was, as the 4G equipment was installed, attenuators (which reduce the signal strength) had been fitted to the 2G equipment on the same mast as the new 4G gear. This was to limit the amount of 4G radio, on a similar frequency to 2G, being fed into the 2G equipment. But it was also reducing the sensitivity to 2G phones and equipment like ours out in the field. This meant, we could 'hear' the mast perfectly well and report a good signal but the mast was now struggling to 'hear' from our equipment. Better aerials meant we could transmit better and the signal at the mast was restored.
The point is though, 2G was making way for the new 4G technology which offers more connections and higher data rates for the same radio spectrum.
3G was always a temporary solution to improve upon 2G whilst what became 4G was refined. That being the case, once 4G arrived 3G really served no purpose and it's available bandwidth was reduced. You may have noticed when your phone is on 3G the data rate is awful whereas up to 2013-ish is wasn't too bad on 3G. This is why. 2G is a good backup for voice and SMS but really 3G serves no purpose and uses a frequency band that doesn't penetrate buildings very well. It was no surprise to learn that 3G networks would be shut down before 2G and, as we can see from the planned shutdown dates, this is exactly what is happening.
Most smart meters in the UK operate on 2G. We all hoped this would save 2G and give us an extension up to 2030. Sadly it would appear that 2G will continue for these services but our roaming SIMs and ordinary mobile phone SIM will not have access to what remains of the 2G network dedicated to smart meters. As of Feb 2021 that's as much as we know.
So basically, for long term usage use 4G equipment. Paying a premium for 3G is absolutely pointless. There are months left to go on 3G. 2G has a few years to go but start preparing now for the future
What was branded NB-4G (Narrow Band 4G) has now been rebranded NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things) and classed as 5G along with Cat-M1 4G. These are 4G standards really they've just arrived on the market after 4G made an appearance almost a decade ago.
5G is for mobile computing. NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are the future for connected devices. For now though we're using the full mobile phone Cat-1 4G in our products as the coverage is still too poor on Cat-M1 and NB-IoT. Maybe next year we can offer reduced cost NB-IoT equipment. For now it's still a no.