Analog phaseout may affect fleet tracking

The FCC has ordered all wireless telephone companies to phase out analog service by 2008, a decree that could have a significant effect on the construction industry.

“As much as 90 percent of North America’s estimated 2 million fleet delivery, service and construction industry vehicles that use GPS tracking devices have yet to make the switch from analog to digital GPS systems,” said David Daniels, vice president of marketing for Datalogic International, a manufacturer of fleet tracking products, bar code readers and mobile computers.

Daniels said that although carriers aren’t required to shut down their analog capabilities in 2008, they are anxious to do so because of the better economics of digital. Customers are already experiencing problems with analog service since carriers may be obligated to provide analog service in certain areas, but aren’t required to support analog roaming, he said. For GPS fleet-tracking devices that utilize analog communications, this can be highly problematic and result in spotty coverage or no coverage at all, he added.

Daniels said the construction industry continues to adopt GPS tracking technology at a record pace, but the choice of tracking systems has been expensive satellite-based devices or analog systems. Any new investment in an analog GPS fleet/equipment tracking solution will be worthless, he said.

Datalogic is offering a trade-in program that allows customers to upgrade their analog technology to digital with a rebate of up to $100 per unit traded in. Customers must have 10 or more competitive analog tracking devices to be eligible for the program, and each unit must be in working condition.