T-Mobile logoSource: Android Central

Updated to include Dish response to network shutdown delay on Monday, October 25.

What you need to know

  • T-Mobile announced that it's delaying its 3G CDMA shutdown by three months.
  • The carrier says it's to give its partners time to transition their customers off of the aging network.
  • The shutdown is now scheduled for March 31, 2022.

Just as T-Mobile's impending 3G CDMA shutdown neared, the carrier has announced that it's delaying the shutdown by a few months.

On Friday, T-Mobile explained that it hoped to sunset the aging network as soon as possible to improve its 5G network for the best Android phones while giving its partners "plenty of time and resources to take care of their customers as well."

However, T-Mobile says its partners "haven't followed through on their responsibility to help their customers through this shift," and it's become clear that the original January 1, 2022 deadline would need to be pushed back.

Even though T-Mobile does not directly name Dish, it's clear that the new carrier is among the "partners" mentioned. Dish has been piggybacking on T-Mobile's network as it works to build and launch its own network. Meanwhile, Dish took over ownership of Boost Mobile, which still relies on the aging 3G CDMA network, as a condition of the Sprint merger.

However, in a bid to boost its 5G efforts, T-Mobile made preparations to sunset the CDMA network to repurpose the spectrum, much to Dish's dismay. The carrier has pleaded with T-Mobile to reconsider its timeline, to the point where the DOJ became involved, expressing "grave concerns" that the deadline may not provide Dish enough time to move its customers over.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert has accused Dish of "dragging their feet" with its transition efforts, a sentiment further expressed in Friday's announcement.

There should be no more room for excuses. We have provided even more time and those partners can follow suit with the effort that is needed to ensure no one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

While this should give Dish more time to prepare for the shutdown, the company says that it's still not enough time and that T-Mobile is failing to take responsibility by going back on its word. Jeff Blum, Dish executive vice president of External and Legislative Affairs, references commitments made to support the CDMA network for three years as part of the Sprint merger agreement.

T-Mobile's announcement is a recognition that its premature shutdown of the CDMA network will harm consumers who rely on this network for critical connectivity, including 911.

While additional time is welcome, three months is not nearly sufficient to protect the well over one million Boost consumers – many of whom are low income – projected to still need access to this network beyond March 31, 2022.

While DISH has successfully migrated millions of consumers off the CDMA network, migrations of this scale are complex and take time. Despite DISH's significant migration efforts to date, supply chain cellphone shortages, COVID-related interruptions and other economic challenges continue to constrain upgrades.