November 16th, 2018 - Payments, POS
Mark Collins, Managing Director of Transaction Network Services’ FinTech Solutions business in Europe, addresses concerns about the growing number of 2G and 3G networks that are shutting down.
The pace of change in the payments industry has taken some by surprise. It’s not just consumers rapidly adopting new technology, such as biometric payments, or the fostering of relationships with new players who have entered the market, it’s the shift in the foundations at our very core that could prove to be the biggest bump in the road. Telco’s globally are shutting down a growing number of old 2G and 3G networks and reassigning spectrum to new services.
Preparing for 4G and the inevitable 5G seems daunting but in reality it’s quite straightforward. We have seen many organisations delay this move while they address other key business objectives, but we’re now fast approaching the point where action needs to be quickly taken to ensure there is no break in service to their customers. If retailers using mobile point-of-sale (POS) terminals find themselves unable to take card payments, the price they might end up paying could be catastrophic.
Which countries are being affected?
This is a global phenomenon. The Asia Pacific region is the most advanced, with Telstra and Optus in Australia notable examples of operators who have already switched off their 2G networks. In Singapore, all 2G networks were shut down in 2017, while in Taiwan all 2G licenses expired in June 2017 with services terminated the following month.
European operators in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway and the Czech Republic have announced their intentions to close a range of 2G and 3G networks by 2020. In the UK leading operators have issued statements concerning the refarming of 2G spectrum for 4G use and some Europe-wide operators are also believed to have started making plans to switch off their networks.
The situation in North America is more varied. Some operators in the US have already shut down their 2G networks while others have announced a temporary stay of execution and will support them for a couple more years. In Canada full decommissioning is underway at one firm, but others are yet to provide guidance leaving customers guessing.
Take a look at our new infographic for a summary and update on the global situation of these shut downs.
Is LTE-M the answer?
Long Term Evolution for Machines or LTE-M as it has become known is a low power wide area technology which supports the Internet of Things (IoT) and the many connected devices this increasingly includes. It has been conceived to provide lower device complexity while giving extended coverage and allowing the reuse of the LTE installed base.
LTE-M will co-exist with 4G networks, but only a handful of commercial launches have now taken place, so it is my recommendation that the payments industry should plan to migrate to proven 4G networks which should promote compatibility with future 5G developments.
Future-proofing your business is straightforward
TNS’ Global Wireless Access (GWA) solution is a dedicated payments-related IoT solution for mobile POS terminals. It offers comprehensive international coverage and supports 4G roaming in more than 60 countries. We already have a significant number of retailers and deployers of large POS terminal estates using this solution in more than 35 countries across Europe, the Asia Pacific region and the Americas.
Wireless terminal providers, owners and users need to deploy 4G terminals now as they can no longer guarantee 2G or 3G coverage where it has previously been available. TNS’ GWA solution supports the latest terminals and can help merchants benefit from 4G speeds which make point-of-sale transactions faster, provide better customer service and enhanced efficiency.
With over 25 years’ experience, TNS has a proven background in the payments industry and is exceptionally proud to support over 500,000 POS and ATM SIMs globally. We design and continuously enhance our solutions specifically for the payments industry and include essential features as standard. GWA, for example, has an advanced SIM management and diagnostics portal which allows SIMs to be provisioned quickly and easily, with users able to view activity and make changes in real time. We also combine strongest signal connectivity and data roaming to ensure maximum availability.
To find out more about TNS’ Global Wireless Access solution and plan your path to 4G please visit https://live-tnsi.pantheonsite.io/product/global-wireless-access/