I bet you never thought about how the Coke/Chocolate/Chip machine at your shop or Club gets restocked when it is running low?

Similarly, things like rain gauges, water tanks, school zone signs: How do they work?

And importantly for our elderly, things like personal fall monitors (that send an alert to family or medical staff when a wearer has had a fall) 

How are these devices being monitored and which Mobile Network are they utilising?

These are just some of the tech still using soon-to-be-dismantled 3G Mobile Network.

I spoke in an earlier BLOG about the closure of the Network which has partially commenced 

https://connectmytech.com.au/optus-mobile-partial-3g-network-close-from-may-2022/

However, the FULL closure of the 3G Network will take place across all three Networks as below

 

Vodafone – December 2023

Telstra – June 2024

Optus – September 2024

The shutdown will not adversely impact most of you but this BLOG is a reminder to make sure that your personal alarm/fall monitors are at a minimum, 4G capable.

I know of people who have recently purchased a Fall Monitor that is only 3G and this is a warning to all of you to ensure that your loved ones are safe.

 

The story below is from SMH 

Weather warning systems, personal fall monitors and traffic signs are among the technology still running on 3G in NSW, with experts urging the government and businesses to transition to an alternative with plenty of time before the network is decommissioned next year.

Telstra will shut its remaining 3G services in June 2024, while Optus will follow suit three months later.

The state’s 6900 flashing school zone signs have previously used the 3G network to receive term dates. 

For most people, their only use for 3G in 2023 is finding mobile reception areas with poor service. But many infrastructure assets still depend on the older network to receive and transmit small, but sometimes critical, pieces of information.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson confirmed the department was currently in the process of upgrading its 3G-reliant technology, including school zone signs and rain gauges, across the state.

Twenty-nine of Transport for NSW’s 89 owned and operated weather stations – which measure rainfall and adverse weather conditions for safety on the state’s road and rail network – still depend on 3G.

The stations use the network to send alert messages with the data collected.

Dr Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Centre for IoT (the Internet of Things) and Telecommunications, said many of the 3G devices still in use had required little maintenance since they were installed.

The 3G network will be shut down in Australia next year. CREDIT:GLENN HUNT

“They don’t need frequent updates, they don’t need high data rates, but they do need coverage, and that is why they work for emergency services in remote areas because 3G services have wider coverage than 4G, so you need fewer antennas and bases,” he said.

Eighty per cent of Transport for NSW’s 3G assets are school zone signs, which use the network to receive an input of new term dates each year, so their lights only flash on days when children are in class.

Around half of the state’s 6900 signs are yet to be upgraded to 4G.

“[Programming] those signs is a once-a-year kind of thing, not an everyday activity, and that is where 3G was really useful. It was reliable, available and relatively cheap,” said Dr Glenn Geers, a transport consultant who has worked for government and industry.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the department was confident all of its 3G technology, which also includes traffic counters, would be upgraded by mid-2024.

“Transport 3G assets will be transitioned to the 4G networks. Where possible, devices will be deployed that are compatible with 5G networks to allow for future-proofing the networks,” they said.

The spokesperson was unable to provide a total cost for the upgrades.

In regional areas, Geers said low-power wide area technology (LPWA) such as the LTE-M and Narrowbank IoT networks would likely provide the service previously provided by 3G for remote infrastructure. The decommissioning of 3G will also allow for the expansion of 4G, which shares the same spectrum.

But individuals and businesses should also be aware of the impact that the 3G decommissioning could have on their equipment.

3G is common in personal fall monitors, designed to detect when their user (such as an elderly person living alone, or a nursing home resident or hospital patient) may have fallen over.

The devices use the network to alert an emergency contact.

In 2021, the then-peak bodies for aged care providers urged members to assess their technology and move away from 3G before 2024.

While fall monitors are used in hospitals, a NSW Health spokesperson confirmed its medical devices and communications ran on its statewide wireless network, with devices used by the department working on 4G or this network.

“Medical alert devices such as falls monitors are used in the community and these are individually owned and managed by private companies, not by NSW Health,” they added.

“Devices owned or managed externally, as is standard practice, are expected to be updated to ensure
their continued safe and effective use.”

Despite decommissioning in a year’s time, several makes of 3G fall monitors continue to be sold by Australian retailers.

Geers said organisations may have bought 3G equipment “relatively recently”.

“Is it up to the manufacturer to let them know [about the decommissioning]? I doubt it. It’s really up to the owner of the equipment,” he said, likening the need for investment and concern to Y2K.

Shirvanimoghaddam agreed the transition was doable but said “organisations need a push” to change systems that are currently completely functional.

“If there wasn’t the decommissioning it probably would not be on the priority list,” he said.