As the construction industry continues to become more mobile with various types of connected devices at the jobsite as well as embedded into facilities, a big focus has been on how to access and manage data streams to and from the devices. For construction, much discussion has centered on the types of devices and software. However, have you considered the ways in which the network will impact how that information is sent and received? There is a big transition happening among the wireless carriers—something contractors might want to consider as they are developing mobile strategies.

For construction companies, the sunset of 2G could have big implications both for connected devices at the jobsite and the ongoing lifecycle of devices in facilities management. For example, AT&T, www.att.com, Dallas, Texas, has announced it is planning to shut down its 2G networks by approximately Jan. 1, 2017.

Particularly targeted to industries such as construction, last year, Sprint, www.sprint.com, Overland Park, Kan., also announced its plans to cease service on the iDEN Nextel National Network, moving these customers to Sprint Direct Connect, Sprint’s 3G CDMA network.

What does this mean for construction companies? Every place a business has a network connection a decision will have to be made for which type of network to use: 2G, 3G, or 4G. This includes infrastructure in facilities, equipment tracked using GPS and cellular networks, mobile security systems, and more. Here is the catch: The decision may not be as simple as faster is better.

Thad Lutgens, IT Director, L.P.R. Construction Co., www.lprconstruction.com, Loveland, Colo., says, “As far as mobile sites, such as oil and gas rigs, these groups need to focus on technologies with the largest footprint.”

He points to the new whitepaper titled 2G, 3G, 4G … OMG! What G Is Right for M2M?, which indicates 3G is the most expansive. Lutgens agrees, saying, “From my experience, with our company traveling to very remote areas throughout the U.S., I would have to agree with that. 3G CDMA coverage is far more expanded than any other.”

However, Lutgens is quick to add construction companies and facility owners also need to plan for the future. “If you choose to use the 2G or even 3G CDMA, you could be replacing the module within a few years of installation.”

In particular, facility owners have big decisions to make regarding what type of network to use in both existing infrastructure and new facilities. Construction owners, on the other hand, need to identify the best network for items such as heavy equipment tracked using GPS and cellular networks and mobile security systems on the jobsite, among others.

The right network depends on a number of factors from the type of devices to the location of the deployment. This topic is addressed in great detail in the whitepaper 2G, 3G, 4G … OMG! What G Is Right for M2M?, and can help facility and construction owners identify the best next steps for networks on the job.