This story was originally published and last updated .
In its bid to keep on the forefront of the 5G race in the United States, T-Mobile hasn't made its plans to kill off its and Sprint's 3G networks exactly loud and clear, but we had a good idea of when the ball would start rolling and when it would finish. Well, that was until the plans apparently changed, before shifting again just a few months later.
Throughout late 2020 and early 2021, T-Mobile for Business customers have been receiving letters detailing device requirements as the company begins sunsetting its UMTS and CDMA 3G networks. The key dates were pegged as the following:
- The network would no longer accept CDMA-only devices and phones without T-Mobile VoLTE support starting January 1.
- Furthermore, it would block all new activations for devices that only support T-Mobile 2G or 3G beginning January 30.
- T-Mobile's UMTS 3G network is scheduled to close down on October 1.
- T-Mobile's (Sprint's) CDMA 3G network will follow "on or around January 1, 2022."
- T-Mobile's 2G network would be the last to go on December 31, 2022.
Two of those milestones are now being delayed according to a source to The T-Mo Report, claiming that the block on 2G and 3G device activations has been put on hold indefinitely while the UMTS shutdown won't happen until April 2022, 6 months later than planned.
T-Mobile marketed itself as a haven for those shut out by AT&T's progressive 2G network closedown in 2017 — businesses managing low-data status feeds like vending machine stock. The carrier now has to balance the needs of those users with its urge to repack the spectrum for 5G deployment.
According to an internal document from last July, regular T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, and derivative MVNO customers were supposedly blocked from activating devices that don't support T-Mobile's VoLTE protocol starting in August and that the company planned to purge existing non-compliant devices off the network at the turn of the year. There hasn't been a general notice on the 2G and 3G shutdowns, though.
Thanks to some new internal documents found by The T-Mo Report, we've learned more information surrounding T-Mobile's 3G shut down — and the impending death of Sprint. Here are the new dates you'll need to take note of:
- T-Mobile is no longer accepting CDMA-only devices and phones without VoLTE as of June 16.
- T-Mobile's UMTS 3G network is still scheduled to close down on October 1.
- Sprint's legacy CDMA 3G network is set to shut down on January 1, 2022.
- Sprint's LTE and 5G network will turn off on June 30, 2022.
The most important date here is for T-Mobile's 3G network, which the carrier placed on hiatus in February. It's back to the initially planned date of October 1, leaving users less than two months to switch to a VoLTE-capable phone if they haven't already. Sprint's LTE and 5G networks also have a new end date, with any device not compatible with T-Mobile's network requiring an upgrade before that date to continue operating.
Hopefully, this is the last change for these dates. If there's one thing this transition doesn't need, it's confusing, ever-shifting time frames.