Preparing for the 3G Switch off – What Businesses Need to Do

3g switch off, 3g phase out, 3g decomission uk

As the development and usage of the newer generations of wireless connectivity continue to thrive through 4G and 5G, Mobile Network Operators (MNO) are currently in the process of phasing out 3G technology in the United Kingdom, with Vodafone expected to have switched off their 3G technology by the end of the year with Three and EE soon after.  This has already begun and even been completed in numerous other countries across Europe, with O2 declaring it deactivated its last 3G site in Germany in December 2021. With this in mind, what can businesses do to prepare for this imminent change and ensure a smooth transition without affecting operations?

Why are 3G services being deactivated and what technology does this affect?

3G technology relies upon older, less efficient technology and has problems with completing activities that have become staples of both work and home life such as video conferencing and HD streaming, and has been rendered obsolete by newer 4G and 5G connectivity. These are both faster, more reliable, and able to handle the transfer of larger amounts of data, and therefore 3G is being phased out to reuse space on the spectrum and improve the existing 4G and 5G services.

This has major business implications for organisations still reliant on 3G technologies such as femtocells or 3G Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) in their premises and buildings, as there will no longer be any mobile connectivity for phone calls, texts, and mobile data. 

Distributed Antenna Systems, even older versions, contain equipment and technology that may be able to be reused, meaning that the solution to losing 3G technology, in this case, may simply be to invest in upgrading the on-site Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and replacing certain equipment to accommodate for the additional bandwidth that will be required to support 4G services.

However, for femtocells, many cannot be upgraded to 4G and don’t support 5G at all, meaning a new solution is required – this may be modern mobile repeaters, small cells, or multi-operator DAS.

Furthermore, businesses must ensure that their cellular devices and SIM cards can use technology beyond 3G connectivity. This can be as simple as checking your mobile data or mobile network type in the settings of your phone.  If your device can only use 2G and 3G, it will be crucial to upgrade your device as soon as possible to one that supports at least 4G.

What can businesses do to stay connected?

It is important for organisations to conduct an audit of the current network capabilities of their hardware, devices, and processes in use at their current premises to determine what upgrades, if any, will be required.  Many Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices such as alarms, sensors, and card readers, for example, require such connectivity for an organisational workplace to function. Significant importance must be placed on conducting an audit to determine which devices may need to be upgraded.

Once you have determined whether your organization will need to upgrade any of your hardware or devices from 3G technology, you should then begin to investigate possible solutions to your looming connectivity issues, and there are a few different options as mentioned earlier.

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)

Using fibre optic cabling, a DAS can support a number of frequencies and carriers. Usually, antennas are connected to a remote function as one unit which will then carry the signal and will be passed through the fibre optic cables to the BTS installed at the premises.  One of the main advantages of using DAS is that the network can host substantial amounts of people on the network, as each BTS can handle up to 2000 users, which makes this option very scalable and will simplify network expansion if required in the future by your organisation. The large user-handling capabilities of DAS make this solution suitable for larger buildings and premises with higher network demand such as large multi-floor offices and universities. 

Mobile repeaters

The most cost-effective and rapidly-deployed solution is a Boost Pro mobile repeater, which comes in two forms – a Passive or Hybrid DAS.

The most cost-effective way to provide the levels of coverage required is by taking the outside network indoors using a mobile repeater system. Boost Pro’s solution optimises mobile coverage while improving voice quality and data speeds and are ideal for all building types. The products used are license-exempt and fully comply with Ofcom’s UK Interface requirement 2102 (IR2102) (UK).

Boost Pro’s DAS Hybrid solution provides uniform, high-quality mobile signal throughout the building, and is scalable to the size needed. This delivers a mobile signal that is up to 1000x stronger, utilizing CAT 5e/6 cabling for RF and Power over Ethernet, with no signal attenuation, right to the perimeter of the building.

In addition to being the most powerful solution on the market, the system is cost-effective and designed to be installed within days (compared to months typical of other solutions) and comes 5G ready, for once this is approved by Ofcom.

Next steps

If you have a floor plan of your building or premises, BoostPro Systems can offer a free desktop survey to identify the best bespoke solution we can provide for your organisation to solve your connectivity needs.

If you are at this stage or are ready to request a custom solution to your 3G connectivity issues, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 0330 1244 805 to discuss the solution most suitable for your organisation’s needs

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