Business Management

5 Things You Need to Know About 3G Sunsets

October 15, 2020 | By Sarah Iliff

5 Things You Need to Know About 3G Sunsets

With the use of technology and changing consumer demand, we have seen a dramatic shift in connected unattended retail machines over the last 10 years. Our industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and now more than ever, we have millions of devices connected online to the internet, sending data, processing cashless transactions, and enabling operators to be proactive in how they make everyday business decisions. The power of cellular networks is integral to this entire process, whether it be vending machines, kiosks, or micro markets.

This constant evolution of technology requires cellular carriers to upgrade their networks and sunset older generations in order to make way for towers to support the full move to 4G/4G LTE. To better understand what the move to 4G means and how to prepare, we have outlined 5 key things to know:

#1: Why are the 2G and 3G networks being sunset?

In order for cellular carriers to keep up with technology advancements they have to upgrade networks almost every 10 years. Ever since the first generation – aka 1G – network was launched over 30 years ago enabling voice calls over a mobile device, consumers and business alike have clamored for faster, more advanced connectivity. The 2G network was introduced in the early 90s, providing voice and data services. The late 90s saw 3G introduced to the market, enabling internet connectivity – and in turn networking, as well as video and international roaming. Ten years later what we know as 4G or 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) amped up what was already available, with many more advantages over the previous generation.

Which leads to the official sunsetting lead by all cellular carriers of 2G and 3G networks, and in turn will end of life older devices that use either network.

#2: When will the 2G and 3G networks shut down?

Network sunsetting is not immediate, there is no flip of the switch, it’s a gradual process. However, we have outlined below the official sunset and shutdown dates as provided by our cellular partners:

None of the cellular carriers will continue activating 2G or 3G devices. In addition, the carriers may implement restrictions on generations even before the actual sunset date, as well as deactivate cell towers in more remote or sparsely populated areas.

It is important to plan ahead and understand which devices will need to be upgraded in order to maintain business continuity. There is no need to panic, our team at Cantaloupe (formerly USAT) has the experience of going through the transition from 2G to 3G and has a recommended best practice from those learnings – ideally upgrade your sunset devices within 6 – 12 months of the sunset date to avoid little disruption to your device performance and customer experience at your machines.

#3: How will this affect your business?

As cellular carriers upgrade their networks to 4G LTE, they will slowly phase out the older generation networks – it has to do with capacity and bandwidth. This will impact any 2G or 3G powered equipment, no matter the device manufacturer. Simply put, any devices that are powered by 2G or 3G will slowly become less reliable over time, causing connectivity issues, and eventually will no longer work at all. 

#4: What are the benefits of moving to 4G?

The advantage of the 4G or 4G LTE network is that ultimately, it’s faster, more reliable, provides a wider range of coverage and enables a more responsive device. It is the most widely used network in the U.S. and provides greater capabilities than the legacy 3G networks. It will also help to speed up credit card transactions and improve data reliability within your systems, due to greater uptime and performance of the device.

#5: How will USAT help to support this transition?

We understand there are challenges when having to upgrade devices. The Cantaloupe team has developed an upgrade plan for customers that is focused on knowing exactly what to upgrade based on device type, geography, and current carrier. Our team will be reaching out to customers with their personalized upgrade options and next steps over the coming month. We look forward to partnering with each of you to support your business today, and into the future.

If you are an existing Cantaloupe customer, you will be receiving informative emails with 3G upgrade options. If you are not currently a Cantaloupe customer, but looking to upgrade your cashless solutions, explore our ePort Cashless Devices.


Sarah Iliff

Partner Marketing Manager

With 10+ years of experience in sales & marketing, Sarah has a passion for connecting with customers and building strong relationships within the industry. Her experience is within the media and technology sector where she focuses on B2B customer marketing, building strong partner marketing programs to expand product reach and connecting with new prospects.

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