In an effort to prevent ELD violations, federal regulators are asking carriers to plan ahead for the demise of 3G mobile technology by major cellular companies.

To make room for 5G, wireless companies like AT&T and T-Mobile are phaseing out 3G. 3G-only ELDs can no longer send data, thereby making them obsolete and placing them on the FMCSA’s Revoked ELDs list.

On Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) urged motor carriers to take “immediate action” to prevent compliance difficulties, as some 3G networks will be “unsupported” before the published sunset dates.

As soon as the 3G network is no longer available, it is highly doubtful that any ELDs using it will be able to achieve the ELD Technical Specification’s minimal requirements, including capturing all required data components and uploading ELD output files. Consequently, any ELD that relies on the 3G cellular network to execute its functions will no longer be in conformity with the technical criteria in the ELD rule once the 3G network is sunset.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has advised trucking businesses to contact their ELD providers to find out if their ELDs use 3G. In the event that they do, “ask your ELD provider about their plan for upgrading or replacing your equipment to one that will be supported after the 3G sunset, and take the necessary procedures as soon as possible.”

If a vehicle is traveling in a region where 3G is not supported, an ELD relying on 3G will record a fault. This has been confirmed by FMCSA. An ELD must be replaced with one that is compatible with 5G unless an extension is granted by the agency.

The following dates were provided by the FCC for the completion of the 3G sunset (parts of the networks may be discontinued earlier):

  • AT&T 3G: Feb. 22, 2022.
  • Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022.
  • Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022.
  • T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022.
  • Verizon 3G: Dec. 31, 2022.

Cricket, Boost, and Straight Talk are just a few of the other carriers that rely on the AT&T and Verizon networks and will be affected as well, according to the FMCSA.

Trucks’ internal technological systems rely on microchips, which are currently in low supply around the world. Dave Heller, vice president of the Truckload Carriers Association, stated that the scarcity is also harming the manufacturing of items like ELDs.

ELD providers may find themselves short of the new 5G-compliant devices carriers require if this happens, according to Heller.

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