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Will your ELD be obsolete in 2022?

As wireless providers switch off 3G networks in favor of 5G, some ELDs may no longer work

As wireless providers switch off 3G networks in favor of 5G, some ELDs may no longer work. (Shutterstock)

Have you heard about the looming 3G sunset? This upcoming transition, which will largely take place in early 2022, has the potential to dramatically disrupt electronic logging device (ELD) communications for hundreds of thousands of devices. You can avoid being left without a functional device by talking with your ELD provider now.

This situation has come about because the 5G, or fifth generation, communications technology being used by an increasing number of mobile devices needs more spectrum upon which to operate. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 5G “promises consumers faster data rates with lower latency, or delays, in transmitting data. It also promises more capacity for a more efficient network.” However, for 5G to have the capacity it needs, certain bands of the current wireless spectrum, including those used by 3G technology, will have to be reallocated.

Wireless providers, like Verizon and AT&T, are actively moving forward with phasing out 3G to make space for 5G. When this transition fully takes place, ELDs that are only compatible with 3G will no longer be able to transmit data to the back office or roadside law enforcement. This will effectively render the ELDs obsolete and will ultimately land them a spot on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) “Revoked ELDs” list.

While it may seem like your fleet has plenty of time to make the transition to a new 4G- or 5G-compatible device, unfortunately that is simply not the case due to another pressing issue – the global microchip shortage. You may have heard about the chip shortage’s impact on new truck orders, but did you know that it is also impacting the manufacturing of products such as ELDs? This could result in ELD providers running short on the devices carriers need to make the switch away from 3G to new 5G-compliant devices.

TCA has been in communication with FMCSA on this issue and they will continue to monitor the situation as the transition progresses. Time is of the essence, so if you haven’t already, TCA strongly encourages you to begin the conversation with your ELD provider about how your service will be affected and whether you need to upgrade your devices. The 3G sunset will be beneficial for everyone in the long run, but it is critical to start the conversation now before it is too late.

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