Earlier this month, we detailed how an ever-expanding list of connected devices requires wireless carriers to focus on building networks that offer increased coverage and speed. To accommodate these new devices, carriers are continuing to invest in Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, which offer more robust coverage and data transmission rates.
This investment in LTE means that carriers are beginning to reallocate existing Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks. This shift from lagging, older networks to LTE might make technological sense for wireless carriers but it poses concerns for fleets that are used onboard technology that relies on CDMA and GSM networks for connectivity. Understanding why and how this shift to LTE is happening can help you ensure that your drivers and vehicles stay connected.
Spectrum: A Key Concern for Wireless Carriers
While there seems to be an infinite supply of WiFi-enabled devices, there is a finite amount of spectrum to go around. Think of spectrum like a highway, where frequencies are the lanes. Each lane can only hold so many cars. Similar to if you go from a one-lane highway to a three-lane highway, the more spectrum a provider has, the better the service. If the data transmission is more robust and frequent, more spectrum is required. The transmission of real-time data and continuous internet connectivity requires networks to be better, faster and provide more coverage. This all boils down to the fact that networks need more bandwidth to keep up with today’s—and tomorrow’s—demands for faster, better data transmission.
CDMA Coverage: Going, Going, Gone
U.S. carriers will begin to repurpose CDMA and GSM networks beginning in 2019 with Verizon, and other carriers in 2020 and beyond. For fleets that use CDMA-connected devices, it is important to note that the network will degrade in stages, so large areas of coverage may disappear at any time. It’s hard to say how long a CDMA customer will have reliable coverage, but as CDMA infrastructure is shifted to LTE, users will start to feel the challenges related to network accessibility and quality well before the final switch is turned off.
Current map of CDMA coverage in the US
Future map of CDMA coverage in the US once Verizon sunsets its network
As the maps above show, coverage will degrade over time, which means that CDMA devices might have intermittent connectivity depending on their location. Lack of connectivity with your drivers has the potential to impact the efficiency of your entire fleet and your ability to provide quality customer service.
Migrating Your Fleet to LTE
Understanding the transition from CDMA to LTE can help you formulate a strategic and phased approach to upgrade your fleet. It is imperative that you work with your fleet mobility provider to understand how they are prepared for the transition and how they can ensure you maintain connectivity. Addressing network-related questions upfront can help you select technology that is built with the future in mind.
Starting in 2017, Trimble was the first major telematics company to provide 4G LTE connectivity in the North American trucking industry. With the introduction of LTE connectivity, Trimble customers now have the potential for faster connection speeds and the ability to access information more efficiently in geographical areas that previously had little to no coverage.
Curious to learn how Trimble can help you migrate to LTE? Contact us today to see how we can help you make a seamless transition to maintain connectivity and realize the full benefits of a more advanced network.