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.
If you're still using an old, non-LTE-capable phone on Cricket, we have bad news: the company will be shutting down its 3G UMTS networks in February 2022. Additionally, customers will no longer be able to activate their unsupported devices on Cricket starting January 19th, which is only a few days away. Because of the way Cricket handles BYOD phones, this is a real problem.
Based on internal documents from T-Mobile given to Android Police, some older devices, including the OnePlus One, Xperia Z3 series, and Nexus 9, will be unable to connect to the company's network beginning on January 29th. 19 devices, including phones, tablets, and even cameras, are named by the document. Affected customers will be notified by SMS beginning on December 28th, and will be able to upgrade to one of four phones for free.
This week we learned that both AT&T and T-Mobile plan to make VoLTE a hard requirement for their networks in the next couple years. Folks using older phones that don't support the technology will be left behind if they don't upgrade. Most recent phones do support VoLTE, though some enthusiasts running custom ROMs or using imported devices might be in trouble. We're curious how many of our readers might be affected by this change, so: Does your phone support VoLTE (HD Voice) on your carrier?
This story was originally published and last updated .
According to internal T-Mobile documents obtained by Android Police, the carrier plans to fast track the shutdown of its 3G voice network, forcing some customers to buy new phones or leave the network in a matter months. Most carriers have already shut down their legacy 2G networks, so the frequencies can be re-used for LTE and 5G, and 3G's expiration date is now quickly approaching. AT&T started warning customers this week that phones without 4G voice calling would no longer work starting in 2022, and it now appears T-Mobile will be following suit with an even more aggressive timeline.
While a little late to the game, Sprint is finally joining its competitors in offering voice-over-LTE service, or VoLTE — but the rollout has a long way to go yet. So far, the soft launch targets 15 US markets and just three devices: the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, and S8 Active. The carrier will expand to more markets over the coming weeks.
We live in an era when phones often support a dozen or more LTE bands, making them functional on virtually all carriers. Simply working on a carrier might not be enough anymore. There are advanced network technologies like VoLTE and WiFi calling that require device makers and carriers to collaborate to test and certify phones. The GMSA has taken note of this clunky process, and is now working with its partners to develop an open standard for delivering carrier features to more phones.
If you're not a Sprint customer who's in-tune with all the carrier's quirks and features, you probably haven't heard of Calling PLUS. After all, only three phones currently support it - that is, until now. The LG G6 has become the fourth Sprint phone to support Calling PLUS with this latest update.
VoLTE and WiFi calling are both features that have existed on multiple carriers for some years now, but until now, Sprint devices haven't been able to use them in conjunction with each other, save for two rather unimportant devices. The latest updates for the Sprint Galaxy S8 and S8+ enable Calling PLUS, Sprint's lingo for its VoLTE - WiFi calling combo.