DOJ has 'grave concerns' over T-Mobile 3G CDMA shutdown, tells Dish to figure it out

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What you need to know

  • T-Mobile is shutting down Sprint's legacy CDMA 3G network on January 1, 2022.
  • On July 9, the DOJ sent a letter to Dish and T-Mobile in which it expects both parties to take all available steps to ensure Boost customers are transitioned off of the CDMA network before it shuts down.
  • Dish insists it is making all reasonable efforts to migrate customers, but a "material amount" will lose service with the shutdown.
  • T-Mobile claims Dish has plenty of time to transition these customers and that it has even provided Dish with a roadmap to do so.

The Department of Justice warns Dish and T-Mobile that both carriers need to figure out how to migrate remaining Boost Mobile customers from the old Sprint CDMA network before the shutdown on January 1, 2022. Bloomberg spotted a letter from July 9, 2021, in which the DOJ tells Dish and T-Mobile that all appropriate steps must be taken to transition customers from the older network to avoid losing service.

The letter expressed 'grave concerns' that the network shutdown would leave significant portions of Boost's customers without service. T-Mobile was also required to provide reasonable notice to Dish before shutting down the network so that Dish has enough time to ensure customers don't lose service.

Dish insists that while it has been taking all of the appropriate steps to move customers over to its newer network, a "material amount" of customers may still lose coverage. The DOJ's letter notes that if a significant portion of CDMA customers remain by the time of the shutdown deadline, then T-Mobile's notice may not have been sufficient.

T-Mobile's CEO, Mike Sievert, fired back in a blog post on August 9 insisting that Dish has had plenty of time and still has time to transition customers. Sievert points out that T-Mobile has been working for months to transition Sprint customers still using CDMA to the new network with free 5G phones and new plans, including some of the best cell phone plans, for the same or lower prices.

In the blog post, Sievert accused Dish of dragging its heels.

By contrast, our friends at DISH have been dragging their feet in getting their customers upgraded to the superior 4G/5G world.As we prepare to sunset the legacy Sprint CDMA network next year and move customers onto a network that will provide dramatically better connectivity and 911 services (and a variety of other customer benefits), DISH has not done nearly enough to upgrade its Boost CDMA customers.

Sievert also said that T-Mobile had provided Dish a "detailed action plan" based on its experience with MetroPCS.

T-Mobile intends to use the spectrum currently dedicated to CDMA to strengthen its 5G coverage moving forward. The 3G CDMA network has been on the way out for a couple of years, with Sprint halting CDMA-only activations in April of 2019 and T-Mobile stopping activations of phones that rely on this network earlier this year.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.