Mobile 3G Shutdown Might Affect ELD Compliance

by Mar 2, 2022Idealease, News, Safety, Truck Driver Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is warning motor carriers that mobile telecommunications carriers are scheduling shutdown 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 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 with the technical specifications in the ELD rule 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 8 days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.

The announced sunset dates are below (dates are 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.

FMCSA is aware of this issue and will consider motor carrier requests for extensions of the 8-day period to correct malfunctions in an ELD (or fleet with ELD concerns).

The process for requesting an extension is in 49 CFR 395.34(d).  395.34(d)(2) states:

(2) A motor carrier seeking to extend the period of time permitted for repair, replacement, or service of one or more ELDs shall notify the FMCSA Division Administrator for the State of the motor carrier’s principal place of business within 5 days after a driver notifies the motor carrier under paragraph (a)(1) of this section. Each request for an extension under this section must be signed by the motor carrier and must contain:

(i) The name, address, and telephone number of the motor carrier representative who files the request.

(ii) The make, model, and the serial number of each ELD.

(iii) The date and location of each ELD malfunction as reported by the driver to the carrier.

(iv) A concise statement describing actions taken by the motor carrier to make a good faith effort to repair, replace, or service the ELD units, including why the carrier needs additional time beyond the 8 days provided by this section.

If a company has made a good faith effort to comply and cannot find or implement replacement units within the 8-day period, FMCSA will likely give you additional time to comply if you apply for an extension in a timely manner.

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