Vendors of electronic logging devices (ELDs) are ramping up production to meet a surge in demand for the telemetry tracking units after wireless data carriers began “sunsetting” their third-generation (3G) data networks last month in favor of 4G and 5G technology.
Data carriers are making the change to enable the improved bandwidth, latency, and power efficiency of the latest generation platforms, but the switch has a side effect of making the telemetry recorders outmoded and knocking many vehicles out of compliance with a federal mandate to track drivers’ hours of service (HoS). In fact, switching off those 3G networks could leave more than 350,000 U.S. class 8 trucks disconnected from both voice and data services, according to global technology intelligence firm ABI Research.
The deadline comes because network provider AT&T on February 22 shut down its 3G network, leaving some cell phones, and other devices, incompatible with the new system. The impact of that move on the transportation sector could affect smaller fleets in particular, since those businesses are more likely to have delayed the transition from 3G to 4G devices, many of which require Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance via ELDs, ABI said.
“It is entirely likely that many fleets that have not yet transitioned will be unable to purchase, remove, and replace devices prior to February 22. This will result in serious compliance, safety, vehicle health, and operational capability challenges to an industry that moves roughly 72.5% of the nation's freight by weight, and during a time of rolling, crucial shortages of consumer and business products,” Susan Beardslee, ABI’s supply chain and logistics principal analyst, said in a release.
The transition also has significant ramifications for cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico, since both countries have delayed their 3G sunsets to mid-decade. Should these North American partners enter the U.S. after February 22, the fleets using current AT&T 3G devices will no longer be able to transmit or receive data between drivers and dispatch.
In response to those challenges, ELD vendor Transflo said it has increased inventory of its T-Series product, a mobile and cloud-based platform that it says supports connectivity, automation, and supply chain liquidity. The moves comes as many of the major wireless carriers plan to sunset 3G in the first and second quarters of 2022, making many of the ELDs currently being used obsolete, the Tampa, Florida-based firm said.
“There will be a last-minute rush for compliant 4G replacement units,” Transflo’s senior VP of strategy, Doug Schrier, said in a release. “We’ve been preparing for the rush and have sufficient inventory for our customers who will sunset our legacy Transflo T7 and G7 ELDs. And, we have enough ELDs for new customers wanting to make the switch to Transflo. Orders can be expedited quickly so fleets and owner operators can have sufficient time to swap out units.”
According to Schrier, the switch to Transflo’s T-Series from an existing Transflo ELD takes just seconds. Truckers first swap the plug-and-play ELD units, then log on to Transflo’s telematics portal and register the specific vehicle and ELD.
Imminent #3G sunset could leave over 350,000 U.S. #trucks in the dark (and further snarl the #supplychain) - @ABI_Beardslee explains why & how: https://t.co/l7TCOaYeNs #logistics #freight #fleetsafety pic.twitter.com/q22lMGshl2— ABI Research (@ABIresearch) February 15, 2022
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