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The curious case of T-Mobile’s 3G shutdown date

UMTS network closure date was originally October 2021, then it was April 2022, and now it’s back to October.

T-Mobile in the US, as far as Telecoms.com can tell, doesn’t give a breakdown of subscribers by cellular variant. It’s impossible to say, then, how many might be scratching their heads about the shutdown date of the operator’s 3G W-CDMA network.

Perhaps there aren’t too many, which might help explain why T-Mobile doesn’t seem overly fussed about changing its mind (if news reports are accurate).

T-Mobile’s marketing department sent a letter to business customers, dated November 6, 2020, informing them that the UMTS network will shutter on October 1, 2021. In February, The T-Mo Report, citing a “reliable source,” then said T-Mobile had pushed back the shutdown date by six months to April 2022. No explanation was given for the delay.

A few days ago, however, The T-Mo Report reproduced screen shots of documents – intended, it seems, for internal use only – showing that the October 1, 2021 shutdown date was back on.

Or perhaps it was never off in the first place if the “reliable source” turned out to be not so reliable after all. If this was the case, however, T-Mobile should surely have moved to clear up any confusion. From the outside looking in it seems T-Mobile changed its mind. W-CDMA 3G customers now have less than 2 months to get themselves sorted out with new handsets.

Other dates (to pencil in) for the diary

The screenshots also confirmed the November 2020 letter commitment to shutter T-Mobile’s 2G network by December 31, 2022.

And in a bid to achieve those much sought-after synergies from its merger with Sprint, T‑Mobile wants to close as quickly as possible Sprint’s 4G and 5G networks. They’re both due to be switched off by June 30, 2022,

Dish Network is not best pleased about the upcoming closure of Sprint’s legacy 3G CDMA network, however, which is slated for January 1, 2022. As part of gaining regulatory approval for the Sprint merger, T-Mobile sold Sprint’s Boost service, which uses the 3G CDMA network, to Dish.

According to a Bloomberg report this week, antitrust officials at the US Justice Department are said to have “grave concerns” about plans for the nationwide CDMA shutdown, leaving a “substantial proportion of Boost’s customers without service.”

Unlike the apparent toing and froing of T-Mobile’s WCDMA shutdown date, done on its own volition, there’s a possibility that the date of CDMA closure is not entirely in its own hands.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar Bill Atwood 11/08/2021 @ 6:07 pm

    Sprint has advised me that my 5G Samsung S10 that isn’t even paid for will no longer work 1/1/2022. So yes, they are shutting down the Sprint 5G network. I am advised I need to buy a new phone before that date at full price. Of course I can switch carriers…

  2. Avatar Mike Check 13/08/2021 @ 9:08 pm

    This Sprint takeover by T-Mobile has been horrible, both for Sprint and T-Mobile customers. The closer the complete merger gets, the worse service gets…

  3. Avatar Kevin Knickerbocker 22/10/2021 @ 11:42 pm

    Don’t cave, stand your ground. There’s over 9 million customers that will loose service. There’s got to be a response by the DOJ. Lawsuit or something coming up!!

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