The 3G Sunset: What the Global Network Shift Means for Businesses


For a long time, 3G was the standard for network connectivity and wirelessly linking edge elements to the cloud. However, the migration to 4G has already started, leaving unprepared businesses unsupported and disconnected. In this article, Todd Rychecky, VP of Americas, Opengear, discusses why companies should switch to 4G LTE.

Once, 3G was the standard for network connectivity and wirelessly linking edge elements to the cloud. However, as cellular service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile begin shutting down their old networks, 3G will become a relic of the past. In fact, the migration to 4G has already started, leaving older technology and unprepared businesses unsupported and disconnected. Still, those companies that have made the switch or have successfully organized themselves will experience faster download speeds, increased reliability and enhanced resiliency.  

The 3G Network Sunset and the Rise of 4G

Aptly referred to as the 3G sunset, the closure of 3G cellular infrastructure by major carriers will prevent devices from connecting to those networks. And with the limited amount of spectrum available to carriers, the transition away from 3G will make room for new technologies, freeing up bandwidth for faster, 4G, and even 5G signals.  

On top of the sunset deadlines, many cellular service providers have altogether stopped accepting new 3G subscriptions and will no longer authorize the reactivation of legacy devices once subscriptions end. Moreover, after building new towers, 3G-powered equipment will become less dependable and prone to connectivity issues. Eventually, the outdated networks won’t function at all. 

Nevertheless, with every sunset, there is eventually a sunrise, which, in this case, is the 4G LTE network. The rise of 4G was swift and global, with 4G network converge increasing two-fold in just five yearsOpens a new window . Across the world today, more than 90% of the population has access to a mobile broadband network. By the end of 2020, nearly 85% of people had coverage from a 4G network. Since 2018,Opens a new window  almost all telematics and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices have come with 4G LTE modems. This rapid evolution to 4G has also brought several benefits to businesses, some of which will be revolutionary. 

Learn More: A Safety Net for 5G and Edge: How OOB Network Management Helps Create More Resilient Networks

Benefits of 4G

The development and expansion of the 4G LTE networks made connectivity more powerful and commonplace, enabling capabilities that were originally impossible or not as efficient with 3G. Greater reliability in heavily congested wireless networks, higher data throughput speeds, more data, and upgraded compatibility with other technologies are just a handful of the benefits organizations will experience from moving to 4G LTE. Having more advanced infrastructure will also mean a quicker transition of information between devices like smartphones or cellular-enabled tablets resulting in a more agile speed of completion for business tasks. Additionally, increased bandwidth, lower latency, and better harmonization will lower costs and boost business efficiencies.  

Several other benefits of switching to 4G LTE include:

  • Extended coverage: With globally improvedOpens a new window  wireless network coverage, particularly in rural areas and developing countries, work can be easily conducted.
  • Enhanced resiliency: Due to the centrality of the Internet to business operations, any disruption to connectivity could mean huge losses to customer satisfaction and the bottom line.  However, by augmenting legacy Internet connections with 4G, workers will always have access to their online resources. 
  • Remote site management: Using 4G LTE connectivity for out-of-band management, organizations will have secure, proactive monitoring of all mission-critical endpoints from anywhere in the world, even if primary connections are compromised.
  • Increased productivity: Equipped with 4G LTE connectivity, employees can more easily work from home or when traveling with their mobile devices.

Learn More: Network Disaggregation Offers Key Benefits to Mobile Operators as 5G Rolls Out

Misconceptions of 4G LTE

Despite the overwhelming benefits offered by 4G LTE, many businesses have not adopted the technology; there are still tens of thousands of legacy 3G devices in use across North America alone. Several misconceptions hold companies back, such as an underappreciation of the potentials of 4G and a general lack of urgency. Believing that 4G is “just a bit faster” than 3G is wrongfully downplaying the groundbreaking possibilities of 4G. Such a mindset will also set a business up for failure in the future after the major cellular carriers’ deadlines have gone into effect. 

Now that the 3G network sunset is well underway, and with carriers already committing to no new 3G activations and subscriptions, companies need to act fast to replace their legacy devices to avoid service disruption, particularly in rural areas. Businesses should start their transition to 4G at least six to twelve months out from the sunset date (it varies from carrier to carrier, so be sure to check).

Waiting until the last second will have consequences; downtime, lost revenue, missing business objectives will all occur the closer the sunset dates become. So, the earlier businesses transition to 4G LTE technology, the better. 


While there is a lot of excitement around 5G networks and the faster connections, lower latency and automation possibilities they will provide, the rollout is not as widespread as most would believe. For now, 4G LTE technologies remain the most convenient network because of the wide support and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, from today until the 4G sunset in 2030, businesses can leverage carrier-certified out-of-band management technologies integrated with 4G LTE cellular capabilities and proven to bolster network resilience and ensure business continuity. 

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