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M2M in the GSM network?

Regardless of whether it concerns Industry 4.0, connected cars or machine-to-machine communication - without mobile data communication, some beautiful business ideas would be wasted. However, exactly that could happen in five years, warns the British market research institute Machina Research. The institute, which specializes in M2M and IoT topics, reminds that network operators will start shutting down their classic second-generation (2G, GPRS, EDGE) and third-generation (3G, UMTS, HSPA) cellular networks from 2020.

Millions of networked IoT devices would then be without a network connection, process chains would collapse en masse, since M2M communication between the machines involved would no longer be possible.

Can't companies just upgrade? Hardly, because in most IoT devices built-in cellular technology such as SIM cards or modems are firmly soldered and therefore not easily exchangeable. Ultimately, companies are facing a challenge that can be compared with the end of ISDN in the German fixed network planned for 2018. With one difference: In mobile communications, the costs are probably several times higher.

Converting the devices will be difficult

If the old cellular networks were switched off, elevator alarm systems, signaling devices, intelligent display panels, electronic traffic signs and other applications would no longer work if they use 2G or 3G technology for communication. Experts agree that old devices, even if they work with plug contacts, are difficult to convert to a new technology.

In addition, adjustments to the software would often be necessary because interfaces and commands have changed over time. After all: If so-called communication boards were used in the devices, the chances of an exchange are better.

LTE needs the frequencies of 2G and 3G

If you follow Matt Hatton, the author of the strategy report "2G and 3G switch off: a navigation guide for IoT", then the shutdown of today's 2G and 3G networks is inevitable. There is a good reason for this: The frequency spectrum of these networks is required for 4G services (LTE) so that more data can be transported more quickly by radio.

The 2G networks have already been switched off in Japan and South Korea. Other countries have published clear roadmaps. Sometimes the network operators were involved, sometimes - like AT&T, for example - they pushed ahead on their own. The 2G networks are history in the USA too, the network operators have given up this technology. Even UMTS (3G), which is still widespread in this country, is on a dying branch in the United States. As Joachim Dressler, Vice President EMEA at the M2M specialist Sierra Wireless, observes, the certification of new 3G solutions there is either reluctant or even rejected.