Kiosk issue: 3G or not 3G, this is not a drill!
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Back on March 11, 2015, Cisco announced the end-of-life roadmap for supporting its Cisco 3G wireless WAN. Most of us will be so far removed from 3G on our cell phones it really won't matter, right?
In retrospect, it seems that this announcement probably went mostly unnoticed to the kiosk deployer who saw that they had a runway of five years, until Dec. 31, 2020, to deal with the issue.
However, we are two years into the process, and honestly, I don't see a real big slowing of the population of 3G technology in the marketplace.
Wireless network data providers like Kore Wireless describe the shutdown of both 2G and 3G networks and the expansion of 4G LTE technology on their websites. The 2G networks will be completely disconnected by the end of 2017. So, even if you have simple applications that can run adequately on 2G, they won't run if the network isn't there anymore — after all, a train doesn't move if there aren't tracks.
LTE, which stands for long-term evolution and is better known as 4G LTE, is the current wireless communication standard for high-speed data for data terminals and mobile phones. There are different LTE categories designating specific download and upload speeds.
Think long-term and comprehensive
Kiosk deployers need to have a comprehensive, long-term view of the universe they inhabit. We are part of the IoT wave that is rapidly descending over our globe. There are numerous kiosk market studies projecting significant growth over the next few years. One researcher, Transparency Market Research, projects the kiosk market to post a combined annual growth rate of 10.9 percent through 2024 and rise to a valuation of $30.8 billion. That's a lot of data we're talking about managing.
The Kore Wireless website goes on to address several questions kiosk deployers should be asking themselves and their providers as they look to migrate to the future. These are:
1. What is the cost of upgrading to LTE?
2. What guarantee do we have that, after investing a great deal of time and resources in adopting LTE, it won't quickly be replaced by more advanced technology?
3. What if my applications are not really using that much bandwidth?
4. What is the bottom line on choosing LTE?
Think about ROI
Kiosk deployers should view the task of upgrading to LTE as an opportunity rather than a chore. LTE promises faster data speeds, which promises greater efficiency and improved customer satisfaction. According to Kore Wireless and other network data providers, LTE provides a longer deployment lifetime, meaning a better ROI.
Keep in mind that today's consumers — the people who make transactions at kiosks and/or access information from them — are carrying a lot more data in their smartphones. Networks need greater bandwidth capacity to serve everyday consumers.
Mobile data traffic in 2014 was 30 times the entire internet in 2000, according to Kore Wireless. Video comprised more than 50 percent of the total mobile data traffic in 2014, and the average smartphone consumed 45 percent more bandwidth than in 2013.
Cisco projects 103 percent annual growth in the number of IoT connections through the end of 2019.
Solutions are available
Solutions are available to kiosk deployers.
Thai Dang, from Braemac, an electronics distributor I work with, tells me more of his kiosk and vending customers are moving away from 2G/3G and converting to 4G LTE. He said their preferred solution is a simple plug-and-play device from the Huawei MS2372h series modem (AT&T, T-Mobile, North and South America) products. It is a 4G LTE USB dongle and is an efficient solution for the 2G/3G sunsets.
For those needing a router, there are plenty available. Dang is partial to the Multitech LTE routers which support both Verizon and AT&T.
The bottom line is that self-serve devices that were or will be populated with 3G technology will very shortly be in need of upgrading.
My sources at Sprint are saying that everyone should be looking to get off of 3G by 2018 or their devices will go dead.
Kiosk deployers need to view LTE migration as an opportunity.
Ben Wheeler, known as The KioskGuy, is a long time kiosk industry executive who assists companies with kiosk solutions.www