The world of cellular connectivity is filled with confusing terminology: 2G, 3G, 4G, and the alphabet soup of LTE, GSM, CDMA, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS.
The term 2G simply refers to second-generation cellular technology. For those of us in the United States, that means the first digital cellular networks and capability to send data, beyond just SMS text messages. The data services were introduced around 2000, making the technology nearly 15 years old. 3G is third-generation technology, which increased data transfer rates by a factor of 10 compared to the older standards. With 3G, it’s possible to enjoy rich web pages and multimedia applications, such as audio streaming, over cellular networks. 4G is complicated, since some cellular carriers use the term to refer to extensions of 3G technology, such as HSPA+, but others use it to refer to a truly different generation of technology, such as LTE. Either way, it means even higher data rates, making video conferencing and similar applications practical for most consumers.
Since telematics does not usually entail the cellular communication of video, 4G is not necessarily needed (or worth paying for) just yet. However, data usage is still increasing, with applications such as those that synchronize driver logs for Hours-of-Service. These increased services can be performed adequately with a 3G connection when compared to slower connections.
Cellular providers are starting to shut down their 2G networks, so a transition to 3G-compatible devices is required within the next few years. While this might be inconvenient, higher data rates will support more connections at the same data rate, using their limited bandwidth resources more efficiently with the newer technology to keep up with the explosion in mobile devices. Zonar has migrated all its cellular products, including the V3, V3R, and ZTrak, to operate on 3G networks for continues functionality well into the future.