Readers see reality of 'sunset' after AT&T sets 2G deadline

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—AT&T’s 2G “sunset” announcement in August didn’t surprise many people in the alarm industry: Only 9 percent had doubted it was imminent, according to a recent SSN News Poll. But despite that perspective, a majority of respondents said they had not yet begun upgrade their cellular equipment to 3G or 4G.

What a difference a deadline makes.

AT&T’s declaration that it will phase out its 2G service by Jan. 1, 2017 knocked a lot of people off the fence, with 55 percent of poll respondents saying they now plan to upgrade by 2014 or earlier. The sunset will affect at least 3 million alarm communicators in the field, industry experts say, and frequency harvesting is expected to dilute AT&T’s 2G coverage well before the deadline.

“I’m switching now,” one SSN reader wrote. “Why would anyone wait knowing what’s going to happen?”

Cost could be one reason. Although the majority of the 51 respondents said they would upgrade by 2014, 30 percent said they would wait until 2015, and 15 percent said they would hold off until late 2016.

“I’m waiting to see what relief the manufacturing company might be offering,” a reader said.

Some respondents to SSN’s unscientific poll criticized AT&T for dropping its support for 2G. Others said it was time for the security industry to bank on different technologies to leave it less vulnerable in the future.

“I think this is short-sighted and ludicrous, and if there was proper government oversight this would not be allowed,” a reader wrote. “AT&T is only considering the cellphone market and not the M2M market. It’s one thing to limit new 2G devices, but [current] devices should continue to be supported.”

“Usually an alarm product has about a 12-year life,” said another respondent. “Tying the product to an external service used by the public at large is forcing this number down to the five-year area. Maybe we should be looking for a transport technology that does not depend on that type of service, like AES or another local radio system.”

That was the conclusion reached by at least a half-dozen other readers, given the inevitability of change and the acceleration of technology.

“Life goes on,” a reader summarized. “We plan ahead for these things and moved our clients to an AES wireless network that we maintain [to] stop the insanity.”