As wireless carriers build out 4G and 5G networks, they are de-commissioning old 2G and 3G infrastructure to free up capacity on their spectrums. This will impact the many solar systems, EV chargers, and other technologies that still contain old hardware compatible with only 3G networks. To continue operating these devices, they will need to be upgraded before the sunset dates.
Depending on the carrier, the shutdown will take place over the course of 2022. In line with carrier announcements, these are subject to change:
Sprint’s 3G: January 1, 2022
AT&T’s 3G: February 22, 2022
Sprint’s 4G LTE: June 30, 2022
Verizon’s 3G: December 31, 2022
T-Mobile’s 2G and 3G: 2022
These dates can be found on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website here.
Smartphones are not the only wireless devices that rely on cellular connectivity. Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) modems inside solar inverters and revenue-grade meters (RGM), both of which are used for measuring and recording the production of solar energy systems, also use cellular connectivity. The millions of devices currently running on 3G include:
Home security systems and alarms
Medical devices and monitoring technologies
Solar RGMs and smart meters
Solar monitoring systems and edge sensors
Smart fridges, TVs, and other home appliances
Electric vehicles and fleet management systems
… And many more
For cellular-based monitoring to function, solar inverters contain a modem operating on Global Systems for Mobile (GSM) or CDMA, a radio network used by wireless carriers. These networks are more commonly referred to as 2G and 3G and were widely used in the early years of cellular communication technology, with CDMA being the predominant network in the U.S.
A meter is considered revenue-grade when it meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard C12.1-2008. This may be a separate unit in addition to the electric meter installed by the local utility or a component piece of a solar inverter. They measure to +/- 2% accuracy, which is often a compliance requirement for participating in utility incentive programs or for SREC trading.
Device manufacturers only started using new 4G/5G components in the last few years and the phase-in varied by manufacturer. As a result, most solar systems installed today still contain old components limited to 3G.
Generally speaking, the older the system, the higher the likelihood that you need a 4G or 5G upgrade. We can help you find out if your system or systems in your portfolio are still running on 3G.
CDMA modems or RGMs operating on 3G will stop working and lose connectivity entirely. System owners—or those who maintain the operability of systems on behalf of their customers—who procrastinate in getting their systems upgraded could face major system underperformance, loss of remote monitoring, wasted SRECs, missed billing cycles, and more.
It is important to be proactive in managing your migration to 4G or 5G. There are still millions of 3G devices on the market, and, as the deadline nears, there may be delays as lead times and shortages on solar equipment, replacements, and labor costs increase. Also, if you or your client’s systems receive quarterly payments for minted SRECs, this interruption will also result in monetary loss as the systems’ production can no longer be monitored or reported.
365 Pronto works with manufacturers, SREC brokers/aggregators, and large portfolio owners to create custom-designed swap-out programs. Unit prices depend on the scale of the program, available chip inventory, number of units needing replacement, and ancillary services offered. Contact us today to get a proposal.
If you are a residential or commercial system owner, you may contact an installer of your choice to perform the installation of your new modem or meter; however, you likely will not be able to secure the same price for the new equipment and speed of install using an installer outside the 365 Pronto nationwide provider network.
If you are a manufacturer or have a portfolio of systems that are geographically distributed, few other firms will be able to perform this work nationwide.
As a non-employee, distributed workforce of on-demand service providers spread throughout the country, our network can execute on 3G-related component swap-outs simultaneously, instead of a standard, staggered rollout. This unique market solution means the work is completed at a lower cost and by local, compliant, and qualified providers.