T-Mobile's Sprint 3G shutdown will apparently be completed in May
You have until the end of May to upgrade to a modern phone
Update Mar 30, 4:15 PM ET: Recent updates indicate that the shutdown has not been delayed, but instead is occuring in waves. The article has been updated to reflect the new information.
What you need to know
- Earlier reports indicated that T-Mobile may have delayed the shutdown of Sprint's CDMA 3G network to May 31, 2022.
- T-Mobile had already delayed the shutdown to March 31, 2022, following its initial plans to shut down the network on January 1, 2022.
- The carrier is apparently going through with the March 31 shutdown, which will happen in waves over the coming months.
An earlier report from The T-Mo Report (opens in new tab) suggested that T-Mobile may have delayed its 3G shutdown date. This was due to an update to Softbank's support page (opens in new tab), showing that the Sprint 3G network it uses for roaming in the U.S. would be shut down on May 31, 2022, as opposed to the previous March 31, 2022 date. However, an update to the report points out that the delay may be part of a phaseout process that will still begin on March 31 and happen in waves over the next couple of months.
It also notes that the Sprint LTE network is scheduled to be shut down on June 30, 2022. As for T-Mobile's own 3G network, it's set to be shut down on July 1, 2022.
T-Mobile was not immediately available when we reached out for clarification on its shutdown plans. However, The Verge received a statement from the carrier saying that it will migrate customers over the next 60 days and that the network "will be completely turned off by no later than May 31."
T-Mobile initially set a shutdown date of January 1, 2022, for the 3G CDMA network, which was later delayed to March 31, 2022, after partners that used the network asked for more time. T-Mobile wants to shut down its old 3G networks to make way for faster connections and avoid maintaining a network that fewer and fewer people use every day.
Shutting down a network isn't an easy feat since the carrier needs to ensure those who rely on it have access to a newer network. That means customers need to be upgraded to an LTE or 5G device, and other companies the carrier has partnerships with will also need to prepare their customers.
In the case of Softbank, its customers will need to apply a USIM update to avoid connectivity issues while traveling abroad in the U.S., where the phone may try to connect to 3G. It's worth keeping in mind that the Sprint LTE network is not nearly as robust as those from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, so customers on prepaid carriers without roaming agreements may rely more on Sprint 3G for coverage than a postpaid customer would.
Even if you don't have one of the best Android phones available now, there's a good chance your phone will still work fine on T-Mobile's network. If you were waiting for a reason to upgrade though, it's a good time to take advantage of T-Mobile's great 5G coverage and upgrade to a modern device.
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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.