Tutorial: How to prepare for 2G & 3G network shutdowns – and the transition to 4G LTE & 5G

Author : Harald Remmert | Senior Director of Technology | Digi International

01 March 2021

Digi_How to prepare for 2G & 3G network shutdowns – and the transition to 4G LTE & 5G
Digi_How to prepare for 2G & 3G network shutdowns – and the transition to 4G LTE & 5G

With some cellular networks sunsetting & 5G networks growing, the entire landscape of cellular connectivity is changing. For businesses that have deployed devices based on older networks, there are questions today around the life expectancy of those networks, how long 4G LTE networks will be viable, and if 5G will mature soon enough for their needs.

The full version of this tutorial was originally featured in the March 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

In this tutorial, contributed on behalf of electronic component distributor, Digi-Key Electronics, Harald Remmert, Senior Director of Technology at industrial IoT expert, Digi International will further explore and answer these questions…

Why do older networks shut down? Well, carriers need to be able to re-use spectrum to grow new networks and provide faster, more responsive technology for their customers. Old 2G/3G infrastructure must eventually make way for new networks – and this means older cellular devices will no longer be viable, and must be retired.

There are two metrics in this context that matter most:

1. Spectral efficiency, measured in bits per second/Hertz (Hz). This is an indicator of how efficient the data is transferred per available bandwidth. Modulation, coding schemes and error correction play a key role here. Higher order modulation schemes, such as 64-QAM and 256-QAM commonly used in 4G LTE, allow data to transfer up to 8x more bits/Hz, as compared to 2G or 3G.

2. Latency. This is the delay from request  to response, and is an indicator of how responsive a cellular network is. Through cellular network and technology upgrades, latency has come down from seconds  in the early 2G days, and triple-digit milliseconds in 3G, to double-digit milliseconds in 4G LTE networks, and  an anticipated single-digit latency in  future 5G standalone (SA) networks.

The good news is that 4G LTE will still be available for at least a decade to come, and will co-exist with 5G networks. This tutorial will provide updates on the ‘sunsetting’ of  2G and 3G networks, and the outlook for 4G LTE and 5G networks to support those who are planning their migration path.

Read the full tutorial in EPDT's March 2021 issue...

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