FMCSA: 3G sunsetting could render older ELDs obsolete

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is warning operators that Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) could be affected by upcoming changes to network services. Those changes could begin as early as February.

Major mobile carriers will be shutting down their 3G networks in the coming months to make way for more advanced 4G and 5G services. As a result, many older cell phones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services.

“Once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any ELDs that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the ELD Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files,” FMCSA said in a notice.

FMCSA noted this could mean that any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity will no longer meet the technical specifications in the ELD rule after its 3G network is shut down. 

“When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. 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,” FMCSA warned.

First shutdown just months away

The announced sunset dates below are subject to change. The dates are for completing the shutdowns, but mobile carriers are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.

AT&T 3G: Feb. 22, 2022

Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022

Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022

T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022

Verizon 3G: Dec. 31, 2022

(Note: Many other carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, use the AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile networks.)

FMCSA recommends motor carriers take the following actions to make sure their ELDs continue to work:

  • Confirm whether your ELD relies on a 3G network. If you are unsure, contact your ELD provider. If your ELD does not rely on 3G and meets all minimum requirements, no further action is needed.
  • Ask your provider for its upgrade or replacement plan. If your ELD relies on a 3G network, ask your ELD provider about its plan for upgrading or replacing your device to one that will be supported after the 3G sunset, and complete the necessary actions as soon as possible.

“FMCSA strongly encourages motor carriers to take the above actions as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues, as portions of carrier 3G networks will be unsupported in advance of the announced sunset dates,” the agency said in its notice.


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