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Things You Need To Know To Execute the 4G Transition
February 17, 2021
Notice:  Jeff Zwirn's webinar recorded February 16, 2021 on Forensic Analysis of Non-Conforming Control Panel(s); the UL issue will be posted on the K&K website
Things You Need To Know To Execute the 4G Transition
          Many alarm companies offer Personal Emergency Response, both stationary units and mobile, which often includes medical alert.  While there are companies that focus exclusively on medical alert [which is generally not covered by electronic security or fire alarm licenses] even the medical alert industry has expanded its service to include non-medical emergency response, PERS, and panic or emergency monitoring is typically included in the definition of alarm license.  So, while the industries may consider themselves quite different, they share many common issues.  Communication pathways is one of them, and the burglar and fire alarm industry as well as the PERS industry are faced with the issue of transitioning into new communication updates.  Here is an article that appeared in Pers Insider. 
          Back in August we asked readers of PERS Insider to tell us when they were planning on completing their 3G to 4G migration: 75% of you said you’re aiming for the first half of 2021, while the other 25% are looking to complete it during the second half of next year.
          At the MAMA (Medical Alert Monitoring Association) annual conference in September we heard from three industry experts who discussed the 3G sunset and shared advice on the transition including best practices and potential risks.
          Here are the seven things you need to know to execute your 4G transition.
1. Early Turn Offs Could Happen
          David Crawford, VP of Guardian Medical Monitoring, warned that during the 2G to 3G transition towers were being turned down in rural areas before the sunset date. He’s concerned that it’s going to happen again – and don’t count on carriers to tell you about it in advance.
          Tip: Keep an eye on where customer complaints are coming from, it may indicate 3G service shutdowns in your service area. Check online coverage maps, and try to focus on rural areas first for your upgrades.
2. Beware of Disengaged Customers
          Jason Anderson, CEO of VRI, is keenly aware that not all customers are as engaged as others, and the transition brings a real risk of a higher attrition rate over your company’s usual performance.
          Tip: There is no magic bullet with customer engagement – you have to put in the work. Make sure you have the right contact information for customers. Consider a campaign to reach out and re-engage your customers with postcards and phone calls to re-acclimate them to the benefits of your service and the features of their PERS system.
          Anderson suggests you use this as an opportunity to reconnect with a customer and reassess their particular needs.
3. Think About Your Supply Chain
          PERS is not the only industry facing the 3G sunset. Keep that in mind as you plan your transition. Device manufacturer Ritch Haselden, SVP of Sales at Essence is confident in the supply chain, but the recent world COVID shutdowns revealed real weaknesses at various points in the manufacturing supply chain. As many industries confront the shutdown in 2021, there may be constraints on 4G radios and other components needed by PERS manufacturers.
          Tip: Make sure you have a good relationship with your manufacturer. Forecast your increased equipment needs between now and February 2022, when the shutdown is complete, and communicate that to your suppliers. Consider building up a larger safety inventory than usual.
4. Data is Key
          All of the experts agree that having good data, and accurate reporting is the key to getting you and your business through the conversion 
          Tip: Know where all of your 3G devices are deployed and how long those customers have had them. Follow your coverage maps, watch your signals, and make sure they’re consistent with your carrier coverage maps.
5. Have a Recycling Plan Too
          Don’t let your 3G devices that you’ve collected end up in a dumpster and eventually a landfill. Make sure you have a plan on how to recycle them.
          Tip: Jason Anderson’s team at VRI is making sure every customer has information on where to properly recycle electronics in their area, but is also offering them a box where they can ship the device back to be recycled.
6. Make Sure Your Replacement 4G Devices Have Longevity
          Ritch Haseldon wants you to double check that the new equipment you’re sending to customers is actually going to provide LTE service. Many LTE products available today only support a subset of the LTE frequencies.
          Tip: Talk to your manufacturer and make sure your product supports your cellular carrier guidelines, and works on both voice and data in LTE. 
7. Get Started Now
          3G devices still work today – so it’s natural to think that you still have time before the shutdown in February 2022. However, each of the experts unequivocally urge you and your company to take action sooner rather than later.
          The sunset is just around the corner and it has to be addressed. 
          This article appeared in Pers Insider on January 5, 2021.  
Emily Benedict, Editor
Pers Insider

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