5G has been the battle cry of network operators and device manufacturers for a couple of years now, but the push hasn’t been as fast or as easy as that they had hoped. Additionally to setbacks thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, wireless carriers’ plans to retire old networks and technologies to release resources have also been met with some resistance and delays. That said, the deadline for 3G networks can not be delayed, and T-Mobile is finally setting its foot down on when it’ll pack up not only its 3G network but also Sprint’s 3G and LTE networks.
Many carriers wanted to place their 3G technologies and services to rest by 2021, and the pandemic made that impractical, and pushback from consumers and regulators forced them to reschedule. Most dates are pushed back to 2022, with Verizon being the last to tug the plug.
After multiple changes, T-Mobile is setting its foot down on a solid timeline, a minimum of for now. On its page for tracking its “Network Evolution,” the carrier notes that it’ll be shutting down its 3G UMTS network on Dominion Day, 2022, which provides customers and partners enough time to organize for the inevitable, primarily by upgrading to supported 4G or 5G devices.
T-Mobile is additionally putting down the dates for the retirement of Sprint’s network. Sprint’s 3G will go dark on January 1, 2022, while its 4G LTE network will cease to work on June 30, 2022. The latter is a component of T-Mobile’s strategy to manoeuvre everyone to one T-Mobile network, and affected Sprint customers need only swap their Sprint SIM card for a T-Mobile one.
T-Mobile promises to support its customers and partners through the transition, but it hasn’t publicly committed how. It’d follow AT&T’s surprising move to supply free 4G phones to people who will be suffering from its 3G network shutdown. Replacing 3G phones with compatible models won’t be that difficult, but owners and operators of IoT devices might get to do more add migrating to a more future-proof system.