Effective immediately, GPS Commander’s standard GPS Tracking devices will now ship with a minimum of 3.5G cellular data technology, unless specified otherwise by the customer. The intent of this product strategy is to protect GPS Commander clients from obsolescence and maximize their product longevity.
Ken Fox, GPS Commander’s Manager of Support Services explains, “While some of the older technologies continue to be supported by several cellular data network providers, we are seeing a gradual reduction in support and this is beginning to affect coverage and performance in some specific markets. Therefore, we’ve settled on HSPA technology as our standard go-to platform, which is supported by most of the major North American networks.”
2G Networks Winding Down
Throughout North America, there are 2 separate 2G network standards, in operation since the 1990’s: The CDMA standard, in operation by both Sprint and Verizon and the GPRS standard, in operation by both T-Mobile and AT&T.
2G – GPRS Standard
In the USA, AT&T has officially stopped allowing the loading of GPRS devices and is actively taking 2G sites off there air, causing a reduction in coverage. The entire 2G network GPRS will be shut down by AT&T at the end of this 2016. T-Mobile continues to support GPRS 2 G devices. All existing GPS Commander customers will continue to operate via the T-Mobile network.
In Canada, Rogers is the only carrier to support 2G GPRS products, with plans to shut it down entirely in 2018. The vast majority of GPS Commander customers are already on 3.5G HSPA devices, so this shutdown will have almost no impact.
2G – CDMA Standard
CDMA networks, operated since the nineties by the traditional telco’s across Canada, has been discontinued for many years, with the official “unplugging” scheduled by by Telus for early 2017. GPS Commander customers in Canada were weaned off CDMA over the past several years, so there will be very little impact to our customers.
In the United States, CDMA is still in use and supported by by both Sprint and Verizon, with support likely to continue for many more years.
3G+ – HSPA Standard
The HSPA standard is a 3.5G protocol in widespread use throughout North America, supported by AT&T, Rogers, Bell, Telus and all of the other Canadian Telco’s. The only major carrier not supporting HSPA in North America is Verizon. This is because Verizon commenced as a CDMA carrier, then built up a second, separate LTE network. There is no direct migration path from CDMA to HSPA/LTE. The Canadian Telco’s including Bell and Telus also commenced on the same CDMA path as Verizon -so why are they compatible with HSPA when Verizon is not? This is because when Telus and Bell started losing out on valuable iPhone business when Apple first launched the iPhone, they opted to share the cost of an entirely new network overlay using HSPA technology. Verizon instead waited and held out for Apple to build a CDMA version of the iPhone, which they eventually did.
4G LTE Standard
The good news is that virtually every carrier now supports LTE, such that eventually all devices will end up being compatible -at least, that’s the hope! So, if every carrier supports LTE, then why aren’t we selling LTE GPS tracking devices? Strictly because of cost. LTE is still relatively new in the tracking world, so devices choices are limited and prices are still too high.
GPS Tracking Devices – 3G+
So, what does all this mean? Basically, we’ve elected to standardize on HSPA GPS tracking devices so that we can ship a tracking device to a customer that will work anywhere in North America or Mexico on multiple leading carriers. It means that are not taking a risk that your devices become quickly obsolete. Does this cost extra? Just a little bit. Our cost is more than GPRS devices that most of our competitors are still selling, but as we don’t mark these products up, our HSPA GPS tracking prices are still less than most competitors’ 2G devices. Also, we provide a lifetime hardware warranty at no extra cost.
What if you prefer CDMA on Verizon? If your fleet prefers Verizon CDMA coverage to AT&T HSPA coverage, don’t worry -we have you covered! Just let us know and we’ll ship CDMA on Verizon to you!