Thursday, November 30, 2023


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FMCSA warns 3G sunset might affect driver recordkeeping, compliance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is warning motor carriers that telecommunications companies are scheduling shutdowns of their 3G mobile service networks to make room for more advanced 5G networks. As a result, many older cell phones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services.

According to the FMCSA, once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any electronic logging devices (ELDs) that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the Electronic Logging Device Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files.

Therefore, any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance after the 3G network it relies on is sunset. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.

The announced sunset dates are below (subject to change). These are dates for completing the shutdowns. Mobile carriers are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.

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

Note: Many other carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize the AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile networks.

If you are unsure if your ELD relies on a 3G network, the FMCSA suggests you contact your ELD provider. If your ELD does not rely on 3G, and meets all minimum requirements, no further action is needed.

If your ELD relies on a 3G network, ask your ELD provider about their plan for upgrading or replacing your device to one that will be supported after the 3G sunset, and complete the necessary actions as soon as possible.

The earliest announced sunset completion date is February 22, 2022. FMCSA strongly encourages motor carriers to take the above actions as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues, as portions of carrier 3G networks will be unsupported in advance of the announced sunset dates.

Richard P. Schweitzer is Regulatory Counsel for NEFI. He can be reached at 202-508-3645 or regulations@nefi.com.

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