Communications platform company BICS warned 2G and 3G network sunsets could widen a global digital divide by denying users access to services when travelling, noting a lack of availability would inevitably hit operators in the pocket.

BICS noted mobile traffic generated by SMS, data and voice calls remained in vogue, but the relevant protocols had changed as operators focus attention on 4G and 5G rather than older network generations.

Using SMS as an example, BICS stated the shift means messages “are essentially delivered” using different languages depending on the network generation employed, which it warned meant users could miss out when 2G and 3G are closed down.

“It’s great that telecoms is focused on adopting new technologies like 5G or 6G. However, it’s essential for operators to also address any potential issues that leave people behind in pursuit of innovation,” Jorn Vercamert, VP of customer solutions and products said.

BICS argued the loss of SMS would be keenly felt by operators, pointing to welcome messages sent to travellers as an example of how the standard is still employed. It stated there are increasing regulatory requirements for such information to be sent to roaming customers and warned of a potential impact on voice and data revenue.

Of course, BICS did not issue its cautions out of kindness: it is promoting an SMS translation system for the “different generations of protocols” covering messaging which it launched today (11 April).

BICS argued there are benefits for existing operators seeking to sunset 2G and 3G networks, along with greenfield players looking to ensure ubiquitous service.