Singapore 3G Shutdown - What You Need to Know and How It Affects Your Fleet

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Unless you were abducted by aliens and only recently landed back on Earth, you should be aware of 3G phasing out.

It’s been underway for a few years now to make way for the new technological age of 4G and 5G, for better internet coverage, speed, and connectivity.

But what impact will this have on the many businesses and industries that still use 3G? Good question.

We’ll tell you.

In this article, you will:

  • Explore the imminent shutdown of 3G connectivity in Singapore
  • Learn about the differences between 3G, 4G, and 5G networks
  • Discover the potential impacts of the 3G shutdown on businesses
  • Know the actionable steps businesses can take to transition from 3G to 4G or 5G
  • Understand how Cartrack's 4G/5G capabilities can future-proof your company

The 3G shutdown development in Singapore

The inevitable transition away from 3G is finally here. After two decades of service, the Singaporean government has announced its decision to discontinue the 3G network with all three popular network operators, Singtel, StarHub and M1 effectively turning off 3G services for good by the 31st of July 2024.

The closure will cover 3G voice, messaging, and data. This move – often termed the 3G sunset or 3G shutdown – is part of telecommunications providers’ efforts to pave the way for more advanced mobile communication options.

Why has Singapore decided to shut down 3G services?

Besides the embrace of 4G and 5G networks, one of the many reasons for the switch is simply the rapid decline of 3G subscribers and users.

The 3G network was introduced in Singapore almost 20 years ago, and as the years have flown by, fewer and fewer civilians are using 3G networks. Opting for the new 4G services that developed in the mid-2010s, and following the trend with the introduction of 5G in 2022.

Just like most of the modern world, mobile subscribers in Singapore are using either 4G or 5G networks with the 3G subscriber count plummeting to around 1% of the overall mobile subscriptions. While, since its introduction, 5G subscriptions have skyrocketed from 15% of the total mobile subscriber base to nearly 99% presently.

3G, 4G and 5G, what’s the difference?

  1. 3G networks were once the go-to for mobile data. It's good for basics like checking emails, but not ideal for streaming or video calls.
  2. 4G provides 'multi-lane' access where you can stream music, watch videos without buffering, and download files quickly.
  3. 5G takes it up a notch with lightning speed – perfect for virtual reality, crystal-clear video calls, and connecting tons of devices all at once.

Since 3G can't keep up with the data demands of today, switching it off will free up space for 4G and 5G.

Here are more key differences between these networks:

Speed: 3G networks offer speeds from about 200 Kbps to 2 Mbps, while 4G can hit up to 150 Mbps. 5G, on the other hand, is built for speeds ranging from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps and even more.

Latency: 5G networks aim to have much lower latency compared to 3G and 4G. While 3G mostly operates in lower frequency bands for better coverage but limited data capacity, 5G uses a wider range of frequency bands, allowing for higher data rates and lower latency.

Capacity: 5G networks are designed to handle way more data and connect many more devices than 4G networks. This increased capacity is crucial for supporting the growing number of connected devices and the rise in received data.

Technology standard: 5G is the latest and most advanced mobile network available. It comes with new features like network slicing, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), and massive multiple input. If that’s not innovative enough, there's also a new standard introduced with 5G called 5G New Radio (NR), which aims to replace LTE.

What happens when 3G is turned off?

Don't worry, the ‘3G sunset’ doesn't mean you'll be left in the dark.

In response to the 3G shutdown, major Singaporean telecoms providers like Singtel, StarHub, and M1 are offering options to transition smoothly to 4G and 5G services. Additionally, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is ensuring support for enterprise users during this transition period.

“For enterprise 3G users, support will be given to help them migrate to 4G or other alternative services while minimising disruption to their existing services.” Said IMDA.

As part of the procedure, StarHub is providing free handset upgrades for both contract and SIM-only customers, while M1 offers free upgrades to 5G SIM cards.

Singtel is facilitating one-time free upgrades from 3G SIM cards for postpaid customers. For enterprise users, IMDA is assisting in migrating to 4G or alternative services to minimise disruptions, ensuring continuity in their operations.


Will fleets be affected by the 3G shutdown?

With the upcoming shutdown of all 3G networks, you might be thinking, what will happen to the 3G subscribers and devices that use 3G networks? Well, without a 3G signal to connect to, some systems will simply stop working, which, if proper migration measures are not taken, could mess with efficiency in some businesses and people's personal day-to-day lives.

Think of essential telematics devices for keeping tabs on fleets like vehicle tracking devices, the 3G shutdown means that some of these devices that run on 3G connectivity won't cut it anymore. Losing 3G could mess with real-time tracking, route planning, and overall fleet coordination. Moving to 4G LTE isn't just a way to keep up with the times and upgrades; it's necessary to keep fleets and operations running smoothly.

To help out, mobile network operators (MNOs) supporting the switch will offer things like changing to 4G plans without any downsides and providing a range of mobile options at different price points.

Apart from the network no longer being around, stores will stop selling devices and phones that use 3G or 4G models that use 3G networks for making voice calls. This shutdown has been underway for about a year now, giving MNOs proper time to help folks and businesses move from 3G to newer services. If you're a 3G user, reach out to your MNO for more info and receive help:

How do you know if you’ll be affected?

To see if your devices are still cruising on 3G, just check the network status bar which is usually seen on either top corner of your screen. If you spot a 3G or H+ symbol in the upper right corner of your phone, it's time to upgrade to 4G or 5G. Singtel says they'll send a message to their subscribers who still use a 3G SIM card.

M1 and StarHub are doing the same, giving a heads-up to their 3G-only customers through email or SMS. If you're in the business world using telematics, make sure to check with your provider to know if your fleet is using 3G or 4G LTE. If they're on 3G, see what plans are available to keep things rolling smoothly.

The telcos have had almost a year to help folks shift from 3G. If you're unsure, just hit up your mobile network operator to see if you're still cruising on 3G. After the July 31, 2024 shutdown, mobile users who remain on 3G-only SIM cards or devices will not be able to receive voice calls, texts, or data services.

Besides phones, what other devices will be affected?

The impending shutdown will have an impact on more than just mobile phone users. Customers might have some decisions to make for their IoT (Internet of Things) devices which run on a 3G network for connectivity.

"Think tablets, smartwatches, home alarms, medical alert devices, car navigation systems and even entertainment setups. You'll need to upgrade these to devices that support 4G/LTE or 5G networks, such as M1 True 5G." Said M1

For businesses in retail, transportation, or medical, think of their industry-specific devices that rely on 3G like point-of-sales systems like card transaction devices, machine-to-machine devices used in remote tracking and asset management like tracking devices, and security systems like alarms, sensors, or even cameras that use 3G will not provide remote access or monitoring.

What are the potential drawbacks of the 3G shutdown for fleets

  1. Disruption and downtime: Switching to new devices and plans can cause temporary disruptions to operations. Businesses heavily reliant on 3G for equipment or services may experience downtime, leading to lost productivity and revenue.
  2. Training and support: Acquiring modern network-enabled devices may require additional training, especially for employees accustomed to older systems. Providing adequate support and resources to employees during the transition can help mitigate challenges.
  3. Increased costs: Upgrading devices, SIM cards, and service plans can incur significant costs for businesses, particularly those with large fleets or numerous connected devices. Budgeting for these expenses is crucial to prevent financial strains.
  4. Impact on older devices and systems: Not all devices can easily support 4G or 5G networks. Companies relying on older equipment or systems that solely operate on 3G may face compatibility issues and require replacements, adding to the overall cost burden.

Upgrading your fleet connectivity from 3G to 4G or 5G isn't just about keeping up with the times, it's about unlocking significant long-term benefits for your entire operation. Businesses must anticipate proper planning, budgeting, and proactive measures to address potential challenges and ensure a smooth transition.

How businesses can smoothly transition from 3G network

Singapore is not the only country that has called it quits on the less popular network. The retirement of 3G services is also being implemented by Australia, the UK, the USA, and Malaysia.

Let’s find out how your business can also smoothly transition from the old to the new.

Take stock of your technology:
Identify all devices or software in your organisation that currently rely on 3G for data or voice communication. This includes phones, tablets, hotspots, POS systems, industrial equipment, fleet management systems, and any other connected devices.

Check compatibility:
Look into the specifications of each device to see if it can work with 4G or 5G networks. Identify which devices need upgrades.

Plan your transition:
Based on your inventory, decide which devices need upgrading urgently and which can wait. Consider factors like budget, device availability, and how crucial they are to your business.

Get help from reliable tech experts:
Partner with trustworthy technology providers to ensure a smooth switch from older networks to faster ones like 4G or 5G. This partnership can offer the expertise and support needed for a successful transition. Once you've made your choices, set clear timelines for upgrades and communicate them to your employees and stakeholders.

Just remember to plan and communicate every step with your employees. Steer your employees into this new change with training if needed and informed to avoid last-minute scrambling and confusion that would cause a dip in productivity.

Addressing common 4G & 5G network concerns

Heard whispers about scary radiation, unreliable connections or just generally weary about the shift to the newer networks? 

We get it! Change can be daunting sometimes, but many concerns are just based on myths. Let’s address some of them.

1. “I do not need the speed of 4G/5G”

Well, if you're running a business, the speed these two provide can be a huge advantage to productivity and communication. Beyond speed, both of these networks are simply more reliable than 3G. Messages can be swiftly sent to drivers without buffering or waving of your device in the air to get network, you’ll get real-time location positioning of your fleet and be able to communicate and provide accurate delivery ETA’s and properly manage expectations.

2. “4G and 5G are just too expensive”

While the initial costs might be slightly higher, the increased efficiency, reduced downtime, and improved visibility often lead to long-term savings. Plus, many of your trusted mobile operators like Giga, StarHub and M1, are offering upgrade packages to ease the transition from 3G.

3. “With 5G on the horizon, 4G is already dead, so what is the point?”

Actually, both 4G and 5G will work together, using the same network infrastructure, from cell towers to data centres and everything in between.

Don't let myths hold you back. Embrace the future of modern networks with a leading vehicle tracking and fleet management company — Cartrack.


Don’t worry, Cartrack units use 4G/5G network

The shutting down of the 3G network may affect many devices across industries. This means that the tracking units installed in vehicles and assets will no longer work. but don’t panic. This doesn't apply to Cartrack’s vehicle tracking units or any of our other technologies. 

Cartrack offers robust and highly trusted devices which have already transitioned to 4G connectivity in Singapore. If your business is looking to upgrade its vehicle safety, look no further than Cartrack’s powerful vehicle tracking units and fleet management solution.

Here’s what Cartrack offers:

Real-time tracking and insights: Gain uninterrupted visibility into your fleet's location, activity, and performance with our trusted tracking units. Our tracking units leverage the power of the 4G network to provide you with instant updates and accurate data, empowering you to make informed decisions on the fly.

Fleet management system: Streamline your fleet management processes with our fleet system that offers lightning-fast data updates and seamless communication between your vehicles and our platform. From optimising routes to monitoring fuel costs, our solution enables you to enhance overall fleet efficiency and productivity with ease.

Camera solution: Increase driver safety, ensure the security of your fleet and gain valuable insights into driver behaviour with Cartrack's smart cameras. Leveraging the reliability and speed of 4G connectivity, our cameras deliver real-time fleet visibility, and provide footage for security against unauthorised access.

Future-proof your company with Cartrack 4G/ 5G capabilities

Easily transition your fleet from 3G to 4G/5G with Cartrack. Our features and fleet management platform offer higher data transfer speeds, providing you with accurate and timely information about your vehicles at all times.

We are confident that our technology will exceed your connectivity and tracking expectations, enabling your operations to continue smoothly, even in the 5G landscape.

Contact Cartrack today

Ensure seamless fleet operation during the 3G phase-out. Discover its implications and leverage Cartrack's 4G solutions for future readiness.