A Nov. 1 notice from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advised users of older cell phones and other mobile devices could see an end to functionality with the sunsetting of 3G technology.
In its release, the FMCSA said, “Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cell phones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services.”
It continued, “Once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any ELDs that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the ELD Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files.
Therefore, any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the ELD rule after the 3G network it relies on is sunset. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted”
In providing the completion sunset dates for the various mobile carriers, the FMCSA said the mobile carriers are actually planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.
So, keep in mind these are the drop-dead completion dates, and service could be discontinued sooner:
- AT&T 3G: Feb. 22, 2022
- Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022
- Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022
- T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022
- Verizon 3G: Dec. 31, 2022
And, the administration said, “Many other carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize the AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile networks.”
It also said the sunset dates are subject to change, and motor carriers should contact their mobile carriers for current info.
“If you are unsure if your ELD relies on a 3G network, contact your ELD provider. If your ELD does not rely on 3G, and meets all minimum requirements, no further action is needed,” the release said.
“Ask your provider for their upgrade or replacement plan
If your ELD relies on a 3G network, ask your ELD provider about their plan for upgrading or replacing your device to one that will be supported after the 3G sunset, and complete the necessary actions as soon as possible. The earliest announced sunset completion date is Feb. 22, 2022. See all announced dates listed above and plan accordingly to avoid service disruptions and compliance issues. FMCSA strongly encourages motor carriers to take the above actions as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues, as portions of carrier 3G networks will be unsupported in advance of the announced sunset dates.”
For more information, contact ELD@dot.gov.