In the initial blog in this series, we warned of the current need to start transitioning your customers’ equipment before network carrier support ceases at the end of 3G. There are even more reasons to upgrade.
Another nuance of LTE are user equipment categories or classes that define the performance specifications of LTE devices. Security systems modules will typically use either Category 1 (Cat 1) or Category 3 (Cat 3) LTE. Cat 3 LTE is what is available now and offers data transfer speeds and voice quality and two-way voice capabilities similar to your smart phone. Cat 1 LTE are less expensive modules and are available for data only applications.
What the industry is really waiting for is VoLTE (Voice over LTE) certification on Cat 1 to ensure two-way voice functionality. VoLTE offers up to 3x more voice and data capacity than older 3G. It offers a much stronger signal to penetrate buildings eliminating more areas that can’t get cellular reception. Many countries and carriers have rolled out VoLTE, but when full coverage will occur is still unknown. Without VoLTE, the trade-off is lower speed (100 Mbps to 10 Mbps). Your customers probably will not notice a slower data transmission speed by their security systems.
The sunset dates from the major carriers continue to be in flux. One news source says Verizon will turn its 3G network off at the end of 2020; another gives a later date at the end of 2022. Starting this month in January, Verizon will no longer activate an existing 3G device or allow customers with 3G phones to transfer service from one account to another account.
AT&T, on the other hand, plans to shut down its 3G network in February 2022 to make way for 4G LTE. It has also informed its partners that it will cease all 3G device activations by the end of February 2020. Both have indicated they will no longer issue SIM cards for 3G devices, which really moves up the need to act sooner rather than later.
The choice is simple. Do you want to create a plan to upgrade your current installation base and avoid costly disruptions of service and potential loss of customers? Or do you wait until that decision is forced upon you? If you wait, you may find that entire sections of the towns or states that you cover go out overnight, leading to a service nightmare.
At 2GIG, we do realize there is a cost to making these service calls. After polling several dealers, we found that the costs hover between $150 and $250, including the cost of the new radio. This can also take a needed technician away from a new install.
There is a way to turn the lemons of this forced change into lemonade. You can turn this need to upgrade equipment into a profitable visit. As service technicians plan for routine service calls, map out nearby customers and see if they are willing to have the technician that is already in the area make a stop to upgrade their system.
Other ways to turn a negative into a positive is to offer promotions during these upgrades. You can offer home automation devices or new doorbell cameras that allow you to profit off the sale of new equipment. Any increase in RMR helps to defray the costs of the service call. These new solutions also benefit the homeowner and make their system more valuable to them, which creates a win-win.
Another avenue to consider is to be forward thinking. You can offer to switch out the panel to one with a replaceable cell sled, like the 2GIG GC3e. By installing the GC3e, you won’t have to roll a truck for future technological updates as you only have to mail out a new radio.
As added incentive, 2GIG is offering a $15 rebate on every radio you upgrade before June 30, 2020. To start earning rebates on something you are already going to do, enroll in this program today.
The sun will go down on 3G/CDMA soon; make sure you are ready!