Most people are familiar with mobile networks because they carry a smartphone. Terms such as 2G, 3G and 4G are all part of the modern world. From a technical point of view they are very different. 2G was very good for tracking devices generally. A good compromise between being able to work inside buildings and long range.
3G provided much faster data rates and the worlds’ governments raked in the royalties from the licences. However, 3G is really the ugly child of the radio world and 4G is a big improvement. The real issue with both of these technologies from a device tracking point of view is that use a number of channels and they can be much higher frequency than 2G.
You have probably noticed driving around that in areas of 4G there are a lot more dropped calls compared to 2G. High frequency, higher data rate but less penetration. So from a security device point of view, 3G and 4G are not as good as 2G. Yet 2G is going to be turned off.
In the final analysis, the networks are aiming at smartphone users and a revenue per device of about £15 per month. An M2M SIM card such as is used in a tracking device might only be worth 20p a month to the network. So it is not surprising that their focus is moving more towards smartphone users. There will be efforts to produce more suitable modems and solutions in the M2M space from the big network players but the reality is their core business plans are not aligned with the needs to most low cost M2M devices.