Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The future of GPRS (update)

In May 2012 I created a blog entry on the future of GPRS and Industrial Automation, so here is an update for February 2013.

First, AT&T has officially announced its shut down of 2G / GPRS will be complete by the end of 2016.
  • Why? To free up radio bandwidth for 4G technologies, which makes much better use of that scare resource, so more customer-bang for less-bucks
  • What does this mean? Between now and then, customers using GPRS will increasingly suffer more and more problems. AT&T officially says GPRS customers with problems can contact AT&T and they will try to sustain suitable GPRS support, however I've already heard from customers who say the answer from such contact is "Sorry, in your situation, you'll need to switch to 3G".
Second, even if AT&T is trying to maintain existing GPRS service, they are unlikely (or certainly NOT?) adding new GPRS hardware to towers. For example we had one customer in northern Minnesota who checked with AT&T, confirmed AT&T had home-network service in an area, but upon equipment installation, it turned out there was no GPRS support - the AT&T towers in that area where NEW, so did not have any GPRS hardware. This customer could not use their six existing GPRS-only products, instead they had to buy six new sets of 3G cellular hardware.