What you need to know
- Dish is complaining to the FCC regarding T-Mobile's shutdown of Sprint's legacy 3G CDMA network.
- T-Mobile is scheduled to shutter the network on January 1, 2022, earlier than the other major carriers.
- Dish says this move could affect 9 million Boost Mobile customers who rely on the CDMA network.
Dish has a few choice words about T-Mobile. On January 1, 2022, the Magenta carrier is scheduled to shutter the 3G CDMA network inherited from the Sprint merger to refarm the spectrum for T-Mobile's own network. The move, however, took Dish by surprise and the new up-and-coming wireless carrier isn't happy about it. In a letter to the FCC (via Axios), Dish complains that the move blindsided it and that T-Mobile should wait longer.
The letter argues that roughly 9 million Boost Mobile customers will be affected by the shutdown since the prepaid carrier is now owned by Dish as part of the Spring-T-Mobile merger. Dish is allowed to piggyback on T-Mobile's network for a few years while it builds out its own. Still, apparently, the timeline that T-Mobile has set for its CDMA shutdown has not enough time for Dish to properly accommodate the customers still utilizing it. Dish calls T-Mobile out for contradicting itself on with anti-competitive such as this:
During its earlier life as the "Un-Carrier," T-Mobile championed policies that promoted competition, diverse spectrum ownership, and efficient spectrum use. How quickly things change....We hope that T-Mobile reconsiders its decision to shut down the CDMA network prematurely so Boost subscribers will not be impacted and DISH can continue providing consumers with competitive choices.
Even though CDMA access was not part of the terms of the Sprint-T-Mobile deal, Dish expected that T-Mobile would wait two to three years before shutting the legacy network down. The letter then brings up Verizon's CDMA shutdown date, which was recently extended for a final time to December 31st, 2022 despite "less than 1 percent of its customer base is still accessing the company's 3G network." That's about a full year following T-Mobile's shutdown date, despite fewer customers relying on it.
That said, if T-Mobile commits to its timeline, customers on Boost Network still have plenty of affordable choices when it comes to newer smartphones that don't rely on CDMA. Some of the best cheap Android phones like the Moto G Fast will work on T-Mobile's "expanded network." There are also plenty of affortable prepaid plans on some of the other best MVNO carriers that might be worth looking into.