3G Network Shutdown in June 2024: Upgrading Your Alarm Modules to 4G
3G Network Shutdown in June 2024: Upgrading Your Alarm Modules to 4G
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As part of the ongoing 5G rollout, i.e., 5th generation cellular network technology, 3G networks will be shutting down, or “sunsetting”, throughout 2024. With some 3G networks being close to 20 years old, they’re being replaced with more reliable and powerful cellular technologies and infrastructure.
Now, chances are, this won’t affect your ability to use mobile devices, which are probably at least 4G compatible, but the 3G network shutdown could impact the functionality of your alarm system.
With this in mind, this post details the effects of the coming 3G network shutdown, how to tell if your alarm system will be affected, and how to upgrade your alarm’s cellular module before the June 2024 deadline.
Understanding the 3G Network Shutdown
Let’s start by detailing the reasons behind the 3G network shutdown.
Why is the 3G Network Being Shut Down?
Cellular communication works through the use of radio waves, which allow devices to communicate with and transmit data to each other. The radio waves use particular spectrums, with 3G mainly occupying 850/900MHz and 2100MHz. However, each spectrum is in finite supply and, more importantly, telcos purchase access to them in lots, or portions, for their networks. Once a spectrum is full, i.e., no more frequency bands, they can’t add services or infrastructure without compromising bandwidth, reliability, speed, and overall quality.
As a result, 3G networks are being replaced with superior 4G and 5G infrastructure to best use the limited spectrum capacity. For telcos, this means more reliable and performant networks which are easier to maintain and can support a wider range of services. For you, the upgrade to 4G and 5G means faster and more reliable connections, greater coverage, and less network congestion.
Implications for Alarm Systems Using 3G
Most alarm systems include a cellular transmitter necessary to communicate with a security company’s monitoring centres. Because cellular networks are more reliable than internet connections, like Wi-Fi networks, they provide a robust failsafe in the event of power outages, bandwidth congestion at busy periods, and other internet service provider (ISP) problems. Subsequently, alarm systems that use a 3G network for their cellular connection lose that essential backup mechanism – which could prevent critical alerts from being sent out in time – or, worse, not at all.
Consequently, if your alarm system currently relies on 3G, it won’t work when the network shutdown takes place in 2024. What’s more, even if your alarm system appears to be working, it won’t be able to communicate with monitoring centres – which won’t then know to send out a security patrol or alert the authorities.
This particularly applies to duress alarm systems, i.e., panic buttons, that use cellular networks to transmit signals to security services. Alarm systems with panic buttons must be especially reliable and rapidly transmit emergency signals for the fastest possible response. If a duress alarm relies on a 3G network and isn’t upgraded, this compromises the safety of its owner, such as in a home invasion situation.
Timeline and Key Dates for the 3G Network Shutdown
Although the 3G shutdown and accompanying network migration will be complete by the third quarter (Q3) of 2024, it won’t all happen at once. Instead, the Big Three telcos will shut down their 3G networks in phases.
Time Until Shutdown
Here are the key dates for the 3G to 4G upgrade:
• Vodafone has already disabled the 2100 MHz spectrum/part and will be the first to completely switch off its 3G network, with the 900MHz spectrum being turned off on 15th December 2023.
• The Telstra 3G shutdown has already begun, as it sunsetted its 2100MHz spectrum in March 2019. Telstra’s 850MHz spectrum will operate until 30th June 2024 – the most often-quoted date for the general 3G network shutdown in Australia.
• Optus will be the last telco to disable its 3G services, with its 900 MHz spectrum being phased out in September 2024, phasing out 3G networks entirely.
Additionally, it’s important to note that smaller telcos like ALDI, Coles, and Woolworths Mobile, i.e., Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), piggyback off the big telcos. As a result, when Telstra et al. shut down their 3G networks, MNVOs also lose their 3G connectivity.
If you’re curious about which telco your cellular service provider is associated with, you can find out here.
The Benefits of Upgrading to 4G Alarm Modules
Aside from the fundamental fact that your alarm system will continue functioning, the 3G to 4G upgrade offers several advantages. Here are a few ways 4G alarm modules improve security for your home or business.
Enhanced Security Features
4G networks have higher bandwidths, allowing them to reliably transfer larger amounts of data. This enables the use of security systems with advanced features that need to process and transmit lots of information quickly. Examples include:
• Mobile app integration: alarm systems compatible with 4G and up often have dedicated mobile apps that provide remote access and control for self-monitoring. This could include sending snapshots when a sensor is triggered, so you’re aware of break-in attempts, or accessing a continuous live feed from the security cameras around your property.
• Robust cybersecurity: naturally, most of us are concerned with criminals breaking into our homes – but some don’t have to come anywhere near your property to steal from you. Consequently, 4G systems are harder to hack, with stronger encryption and security protocols, offering better protection from identity theft, fraud, and other cyber threats.
Faster Response Times
Alarm systems with 4G modules transmit and receive data quicker, enhancing responsiveness. This is particularly vital in emergencies where timely communication is critical.
Improved Reliability and Coverage
With more advanced network infrastructure and a far higher bandwidth capacity, 4G networks are more reliable and offer better coverage. Consequently, upgrading to a 4G alarm module ensures a more stable and consistent connection.
Compatibility with Future Network Upgrades
Upgrading to 4G future proofs your alarm system. As cellular networks continue to advance, your system will benefit from additional infrastructure improvements and new features introduced by service providers that require faster and more reliable data transfer.
Identifying Alarm Systems Affected by the 3G Shutdown
How to Determine If Your Alarm System Is Using 3G
Look for Notices from Your Security Company
If your alarm system will be affected by the 3G network shutdowns, you should receive a notification from your security services provider to schedule an update. Although telcos have specific deadlines for sunsetting their 3G networks, as outlined above, this doesn’t guarantee your alarm system will function optimally until then. So, if you’re unsure you’re actually receiving notifications, or want further clarity, contact your security provider instead.
Contact your Alarm System Provider
Reach out to the company or service provider that installed or manages your alarm system. They will have information about the communication technology used by your specific system and can inform you whether it relies on a 3G connection or has been upgraded to a newer technology like 4G.
Examine the Control Panel
Inspect the control panel of your alarm system, looking for any indicators or labels that mention the communication technology in use. Some control panels may display network status or connection information, which can indicate if it’s using a 3G network.
User Manual or Documentation
Similarly, your alarm system’s user manual or any documentation provided by the manufacturer may include details about the communication technology in use.
Prepare for the 3G Shutdown: Secure Your Connectivity Today!
Your security is our priority. Don’t let the 3G network shutdown compromise your alarm systems. Contact us today for an effortless transition to advanced alarm solutions.
Upgrading Options for 3G Alarm Systems
When it comes to upgrading from 3G to 4G, you typically have three options:
1. Ideally, your security monitoring company should upgrade your 3G alarm module for you. Better yet, having developed their own rollout schedule, they should contact you to book an appointment and prevent lapses in your monitoring service. That said, if they don’t reach out, contact them yourself; here are a few questions to ask:
o Will the 3G to 4G network migration affect my security system?
o Will I be charged for my alarm system upgrade? If so, how much?
o In the event I need an alarm system upgrade, how much will it cost?
o How can I schedule an appointment for my alarm module upgrade?
2. Upgrading your alarm modules yourself, as detailed in the next section.
3. If your alarm system doesn’t support 4G altogether, you’ll have to upgrade the entire alarm system instead of merely replacing the 3G module.
The Process of Upgrading Your Alarm Modules to 4G
Now that you know the importance of upgrading from 3G to 4G alarm modules and how to tell if you need an upgrade, here’s the process for carrying out the 4G upgrade.
Steps for Upgrading Your Alarm System from 3G to 4G
1. Determine system upgradability: first, determine if your existing alarm panel can be upgraded from a 3G module to a 4G module. As advised earlier, reach out to your existing provider for full details of your system or call us on 1300 859 141. We can assess your alarm panel type and provide a recommendation. Some older alarm panels cannot support the 4G+ technologies. In this instance, an alarm panel and keypad would need to be replaced as bare minimum. A free site inspection will determine this.
2. Obtain a 4G-compatible alarm module or panel: If upgrading from a 3G to a 4G module is possible, the next step is acquiring a 4G-compatible module. Again, ideally, this should be provided by your security service provider, but if they fail to supply you with an upgrade, contact a professional security company to help you instead. Pacific Security Group’s modules are universal so they fit most existing alarm systems and report to most control rooms (should you wish to change monitoring stations at a later date)
3. We do not recommend removing and installing the 3G to 4G module yourself, as this requires special programming by a certified security technician to ensure the module is reporting correctly to its desired location (an app or Grade A1 control room). It may void any warranty you have on your alarm system if you accidently damage the mothorboard.
Working With Your Alarm System Provider
In the best, and most likely case, your alarm system provider should initiate the system upgrade: replacing your 3G module, installing the 4G module, and testing it. We do not recommend upgrading it yourself, as it requires special programming and testing. In some cases you may void your warranty on the module or your alarm system if components are damaged during the installation process. Contact your monitoring service provider or call us on 1300 859 141.
As part of our process in installing a 4G module, our technician will:
• Register the upgraded alarm module: to ensure that it communicates with our control room an/or your smart phone app. We will test all devices on your alarm system before leaving site.
• General troubleshooting: if any of your existing devices have an existing fault, this can be picked up during the above installation/testing phase.
Costs and Potential Discounts for Upgrades
Upgrading your 3G to 4G alarm is a fairly simple process and should be relatively inexpensive. Ask your alarm provider how much upgrading your 3G alarm panel will cost. They may upgrade your alarm module for free, particularly if you’re purchasing back-to-base monitoring services from them.
If there’s a cost attached for your upgrade, ask if they can discount or, better still, waive the cost. Similarly, if your existing module can’t be replaced, ask about the cost of upgrading your alarm system – including discounts available to you.
Adapt to the Future: Beat the 3G Network Shutdown!
Safeguard your peace of mind by ensuring your alarm systems are ready for the 2024 network changes. Reach out to us now for professional advice and support.
Preparing for the Future of Security
In addition to ensuring it works in the near future (or, in some cases, still works now), the 3G to 4G upgrade future-proofs your security system. Here are a couple of ways that 4G alarm modules prepare you for future security solutions.
Smart Home Security Integration With 4G And 5G Networks
4G and 5G networks are more reliable, i.e., suffer less downtime; have higher bandwidths, i.e., more data is transferred faster; and have lower latency, i.e., the gap between an action, e.g., turning something on, and response. This makes them far more suitable for smart security solutions than 3G.
Smart home security allows for remote control and automated devices such as smart lighting, security cameras (such as doorbell cameras), alarm systems, door and window sensors, and smart locks. Smart devices, which are consistently increasing in variety and sophistication, provide far more options for securing your property, giving you greater peace of mind.
The Role of 5G in Future Security Systems
With 5G networks being even more resilient and performant than 4G, this will further enhance security solutions, increasing their functionality and making advanced features available to more people. Here are a few examples of 5G’s role in future security solutions:
• Improved IoT capabilities: 5G’s increased connectivity and scalability make it well-suited for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This creates opportunities for advanced security solutions that best harness the vast potential of IoT devices, of which smart appliances are only a small part. 5G allows for the widespread use of smart sensors and other environmental monitoring devices, enhanced CCTV camera systems, highly-secure access control systems, and more.
• Video Surveillance: 5G enables smart sensors to process far more information in less time, allowing for enhanced onboard processing in security camera systems – as can be seen in automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. Other applications of this include more accurate object recognition that can distinguish between people and other objects and are capable of facial recognition. While this technology already exists, 5G networks and ever-improving IoT technology could make it a common feature in consumer home security products.
• Advanced detection capabilities: as smart sensors become more sophisticated, they’ll also become more sensitive and accurate, detecting attempts at forced entry before the perpetrator successfully breaks in. For example, advanced door and window sensors will detect sound or vibration patterns of a criminal attempting to break glass or force open a door.
3G Network Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What will happen if my alarm system is affected by the 3G network shutdown and I don’t take action?
Chances are, your current alarm system will continue to operate until the 3G network shuts down at the June 2024 deadline. If you don’t upgrade your 3G modules before then, your alarm system won’t be able to send alerts to your security monitoring company and, consequently, won’t be able to assist you in the case of an emergency.
In light of this, we recommend checking your alarm system’s control panel for notifications from your security company or contacting them to confirm whether you’ll be affected by the 3G network shutdown.
What about 5G networks? Will I need to upgrade my alarm system again?
5G networks are already being rolled out – but will work alongside 4G infrastructure instead of replacing it. This “future-proofs” your 4G-compatible alarm system and ensures it works when 5G networks are widespread.
Further guidance on specific 3G network shutdowns
If you’d like to know more details about 3G network sunsetting by your telco, check out the links below:
Optus – https://www.optus.com.au/support/mobiles-tablets-wearables/important-changes-3G
Telstra – https://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/support/3G-service-closure
Vodafone – https://www.vodafone.com.au/support/network/3G-closure
Additionally, check out this page, if you want to find out which telco your MVNO is (Aldi, Coles, or Woolworths mobile, etc.).
To recap what the June 2024 3G network shutdown means for your alarm system:
• Because telcos have limited capacity on their infrastructure, 3G networks are being upgraded to 4G and 5G networks.
• Implications for alarm systems using 3G: most alarm systems include a cellular transmitter as a necessary backup to internet connections (Wi-Fi, broadband) in the event of power outages, bandwidth congestion, and other ISP problems. This could result in the alarm system losing not being able to communicate with the monitoring centre it’s connected to.
• Key dates for the 3G network shutdown
o Vodafone:15th December 2023.
o Telstra: 30th june 2024
o Optus: September 2024
• Benefits of upgrading to 4G alarm modules include:
o Enhanced security features
o Faster response times
o Improved reliability and coverage
o Compatibility with future network upgrades
• How to determine if your alarm system is using 3G
o Look for notices from your security company
o Contact your alarm system provider
o Examine the control panel
o Browse your system’s user manual or documentation
• Upgrading options for 3G alarm systems
o Your security monitoring company is upgrading your 3G alarm module for you
o Upgrading the whole alarm system, if your existing system doesn’t support 4G modules altogether,
• Steps for upgrading your alarm system from 3G to 4G
o Determine system upgradability
o Obtain a 4G-compatible alarm module or panel quote
o Obtain the services of a certified security provider to replace
• Working with your alarm system provider
o Register the upgraded alarm module
o General troubleshooting advice
o Ask about costs and potential discounts for upgrades
If need help determining if your alarm system will be – or already has been – affected by the coming 3G network shutdown, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
By the same token, if you feel you’re being charged too much for your 4g module, want advice on upgrading your alarm system, or want more information on any other security solution, our free security assessment is an excellent place to start.
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Kylie Butchard is a highly respected and experienced leader in Australia’s electronic security industry, having successfully steered Pacific Security Group for over 17 years. With a career embedded in customer service, she has consistently focused on putting people first – clients and staff. Known for her strong, resilient, positive, values-driven, consistent, and compassionate approach, Kylie ensures that her team delivers top-notch security solutions tailored to clients’ unique needs.