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12.2.19 – SSI – 

With the 3G sunset fast approaching, it’s time to put together a game plan, or face the possibility of losing customers as well as lawsuits and potentially lives.

You’re probably already well-aware that AT&T and Verizon have announced their 3G technology sunset. This means that any cell units using these paths will no longer be able to communicate with your central station at some point in the near future.

Both carriers are using a “rolling thunder” implementation to convert each tower as they go down or need service, which is already causing communication issues across multiple markets.

Security installers, integrators and manufacturers have no control over the pace in which 3G will sunset, nor are they able to stop it. So what does this mean for you?

The first step you need to take is to put together a complete list of all the 3G units that need to be upgraded. Then, create a schedule for your company to replace them.

Since replacing all of your units in one month isn’t a goal most companies can accomplish while onboarding new business and maintaining service levels for existing accounts, you’ll need a plan. As they say, you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time, so make sure you realistically prepare your 3G upgrade schedule taking into account the difficulty of getting a hold of some of your customers.

One way to develop a plan is to use the total number of units that need to be replaced to create monthly and weekly goals. For example, if you have 120 units that need to be upgraded and your goal is to do that within the next 12 months (which is a good goal), you would need to average upgrading 10 units a month, or four to five units each week.

You should be able to rely on your monitoring company to help you with customer lists. While determining your upgrade schedule, remember that AT&T’s sunset date is February of 2022 (14 months) and Verizon is giving until December of the same year (24 months).

Next, develop an upgrade program. Upgrading a device can be costly in terms of equipment and time for both parties concerned, especially if you haven’t researched all of your options.

Once you have your equipment selected, start reaching out to your customers immediately. Use the sunset as an opportunity to remarket your current database. The demand for smart home products has skyrocketed in recent years, which means the sunset gives you the perfect opportunity to give your customers new services.

The chances are that your customers are already researching options or your competition has already reached out to them and is working to earn their business.

Use multiple avenues to reach out to your customers — email, U.S. postal mail and direct calling. Explain the 3G sunset to them, how it impacts their service and what the added benefits are when they upgrade their system with you.

You may want to consider including a free camera or other interactive smart home solution with the 3G upgrade to keep your customers happy. Even something as simple as a key fob can go a long way and is a great smart home conversation-starter. Finalize the upgrade with a new contract to protect your relationship.

These next-gen alarm systems and cellular communicators are all part of the technical evolution. You’d be doing both you and your customers a favor if you remind them of that during an installation or an upgrade — that an upgrade in the future is almost certain.

The key to success with each sunset is creative, proactive planning. Make change and innovation a part of your company culture and use it as a way to proactively connect with your customers and stay on top of their ever changing needs.