Have you upgraded your onboard technology to 4G or 5G yet? That was the question asked by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amid the final sunset date for 3G networks being only weeks away.
Most mobile cellular provider have already shut down their 3G networks, with only Verizon remaining to close out on Dec. 31. AT&T shutdown its 3G on Feb. 22 of this year, and T-Mobile did the same on July 1.
With the start of 2023, any device that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its daily functions will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule.
“When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction,” the FMCSA reminded users on Tuesday. “In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.”
To prepare for the switch, the FMCSA advised contacting the cellular provider to determine if the device in question relies on 3G network and meets all minimum requirements. If it does, the FMCSA said to ask about the plan for upgrading or replacing the device so they would be supported going forward.
Related: School Bus Wi-Fi is a Turning Point in Transportation Technology
Related: The New Dawn of Connectivity
Related: Technology Abounds, But What Are You Going to Do With It?
Related: The 5G Reveal: Do I Need This Technology Now for Student Transportation?
“FMCSA strongly encourages motor carriers to take the above actions as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues,” the agency added via email.
Announced sunset dates have been in the works for several years. As previously reported, many districts have already had this conversation with providers and have already upgraded their devices.
An online School Transportation News survey of readers in April found that 60 percent of website visitors stated their operation was prepared for the sunset. When looking to upgrade devices, industry experts advise that as of now 5G isn’t a practical solution for the school bus industry, as commercial vehicles don’t need to transmit enough data. Instead, 4G is the more economical route to take.