Lights out for 2G? 'Sunset' debate heats up


Still looking for clarity about the “2G sunset” and whether you’ll be left holding the bag if you don’t upgrade your cellular alarm communicators to 3G (or even 4G) right now?   

You’re not alone. The buzz continued last month at ESX, with manufacturers jockeying to try to sway alarm dealers. Telguard, the company sounding the loudest warning about the sunset, went one step further by announcing a program that gives dealers up to $25 for every 2G cell communicator they replace with a Telguard 3G/4G product. The company does not sell 2G.

“We estimate the industry has 3 million 2G radios that will have to be replaced in the next five years,” said Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telguard.

Unlike AMPS, the date for the 2G sunset will not be determined by the FCC; it will determined by cellular carriers based on capacity constraints and customer demand for 3G. Carriers have already begun reallocating frequency spectrum to accommodate 3G, Welsh said, cutting into the effectiveness of 2G equipment.

But not everyone believes the sky is falling when it comes to 2G, at least not in the next few years. Among those taking a different approach is Mike Boyle, general manager of Uplink. The company is continuing to offer 2G lines while rolling out 4G at the same time.

“People are still buying a lot of 2G products,” he said. “We think we may continue to sell 2G beyond the third quarter of this year. Everything we see in the network says it will be around.”

Uplink backs its business plan with the following assertions on its website:

—2G is a proven technology with falling price points as manufacturing costs decrease.
—No carrier has announced a sunset date for its 2G network.
—Uplink’s communicators operate with multiple carriers and will continue to provide nationwide coverage late into the decade or longer.

The company also offers a lifetime guarantee to replace its 2G products with 4G if the 2G units fail to operate due to a carrier technology change. Boyle said the approach covers all bases by recognizing the realities of the marketplace.

“Requests for 4G are minimal,” he said. “When a guy asks for 4G, we ship 4G. But our business is still 98 percent 2G.”

An industry source who spoke to Security Systems News on condition of anonymity said a sunset announcement from AT&T would be made “in the next few months,” which could knock a lot of people off the fence if they’ve been considering a move to 3G/4G. But longevity is key for alarm dealers, and if they can hang onto their 2G gear for another year or two (or four), many probably will.

It’s the nature of the beast.



If Uplink is counting on the fact that carriers have not totally "sunset" their 2G networks (yet), they may be looking at this wrong.

For quite a while, some carriers, such as AT&T, have stopped certifying new 2G devices.  Carriers have begun to re-purpose (refarm) the 2G spectrum into LTE offerings.  2G equipment is retiring and being replaced for 4G.  3G expansion has virtually ceased.

The declining 2G coverage means that signal strength will decline as overlap goes away.  Alarm systems with 2G radios could become more problematic long before “sunset” is announced.


AT&T has made it official: The last day of 2G coverage is December 31, 2016.

Visit to read the Wall Street Journal and USA Today coverage.



3G/"4G" are both HSPA-based protocols and completely inseparable.  Deploying one means deploying the other. Their deployment is still aggressively happening so that 100% of 2G coverage is matched by the end of 2013.

Now, they are also rapidly deploying 4G LTE. This is a separate network for high speed data in the US.

The only long lived global standard that will support seemless international roaming is HSPA.  This ensures its life for many, many years.  4G LTE frequencies just don't allow this because they are all over the place from country to country.

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