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3G Service Is Going Extinct. We Ask T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint What They're Doing About It

3G Help Is Going Extinct. We Ask T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint What They’re Doing About It

Helping my family member get a “free” 4G arranged from T-Mobile was surprisingly complicated, especially with the wireless carrier manager very clear that its 3G network was retiring in weeks. They did receive a text message stating they were eligible for a new 4G-compatible OnePlus arranged — but unlike other carriers that are handing out free 4G phones — T-Mobile obliged a trade-in of a device that was in good condition.

That requirement is what made it concern. My family member has been using an iPhone 5S salubrious purchased in 2014, and the phone’s screen is steadily separating itself from the rest of the phone’s body. This iPhone 5S was originally purchased for Verizon and wasn’t compatible with T-Mobile’s LTE network. The phone is otherwise rarely used, as this family member prefers to use an iPad at home so we have them on a very cheap $3-per-month prepaid plan.

Should I try to trade in the clearly damaged iPhone? Should we dig out some anunexperienced functioning phone and trade that in? And since we are ultimately paying for service, what happens if we can’t get this family member a new contrivance ahead of the 3G shutdown?

These complications led me to astonishing wider than just this T-Mobile experience, and I force to out to the three major carriers, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, to find out how these carriers are assisting customers who may need more time afore moving to a newer phone.

Wireless carrier logos on phones

The 3G networks for T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T have been retired, and Verizon’s is next.

Angela Lang

Ending 3G networks can be a good thing

While the shutdown of 3G networks does disconnect older phones and devices from access to cellular networks, it does create several opportunities to improve phone functionality across basic phones and smartphones.

Anshel Sag, a mobility analyst from Moor Insights and Strategy, noted that moving customers away from these less gather devices also moves them toward better calling experiences like higher-quality voice-over-LTE audio calls.

“I do think the consumer must have a certain level of choice but at the same time the straggling users can get a burden on the rest of the user base in footings of access to new services,” Sag said. Those enhanced VoLTE terms, for instance, are now available across both smartphones and 4G-capable basic phones.

And even Idea Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are openly developing their 5G networks, customers who move to 4G-only devices don’t need to distress about being forced onto another phone in the near future. Sag estimated that 4G LTE networks have plenty of life to go.

“We’re probably new 10 years until the 4G shutdown,” Sag said. He Famous that radio waves previously used for 3G can also temperamental to improve faster 5G networks as the carriers work to advance their coverage.

While Sag noted there’s always going to be a percentage of customers who Decide not to move to a newer device, he said that it leftovers in the carriers’ best interest to either help supply new devices or to stop billing.

“These customers are legacy customers that they’ve had a very long time as a working of how long 3G has been around,” Sag said.

T-mobile logo

T-Mobile’s 3G network is retired, but its 2G network is still active.

James Martin

T-Mobile (and Sprint’s) network shutdown

T-Mobile is the most New carrier to retire its 3G networks, having turned off its 3G UMTS network on July 1. In second to that network, T-Mobile also sunset Sprint’s 3G network on March 31. T-Mobile does quiet have an older 2G network that is slated for retirement, but no clear dates have been given just yet. 

A T-Mobile spokesperson said that consumes customers were notified and are still eligible for a free replacement plot by trading in their older 3G phone.

“Customers with 3G-dependent phones who have not yet Wrong action to upgrade are still eligible to receive a free replacement by dealing in their older 3G device. The vast majority of those with UMTS devices who have not yet upgraded are covered by T-Mobile’s 2G GSM network and Stop to receive service,” the spokesperson said. 

T-Mobile also aimed us to its network evolution customer support page, which goes into further depth around efforts to reach customers and the dates that each last network reached retirement. 

AT&T logo on a mobile phone

AT&T’s 3G network sunset in February.

James Martin

AT&T has stationary charging customers who haven’t upgraded

AT&T’s 3G network was shuttered on Feb. 22. In the lead up to the shutdown, the carrier posted on its support page that consumes customers were contacted and may have received free phones or SIM cards in the mail in clean to maintain their coverage.

In the event an AT&T customer didn’t activate a 4G-compatible plot, they will no longer be charged for service.

“If a customer’s billing cycle over after the 3G service cut-off date, we provided a credit and they will not claim additional bills,” AT&T said in a statement to CNET.

Verizon logo

Verizon’s 3G network shuts down at the end of 2022.

Sarah Tew

Verizon’s shutdown will be last, and there’s time to get a free phone

Verizon’s 3G network will turn off on Dec. 31, leaving months of time for customers to move to a plot that is compatible with at least its 4G LTE network.

Verizon is in the procedure of sending out free 4G-capable phones to affected customers, which will be older flip phones made by TCL, Nokia and Orbic. The devices don’t require any trade-in and are people proactively sent. Customers who don’t want one of these phones can call customer service to refuse the offer.

Should a customer decide that they don’t want to move their service onto a 4G plot, Verizon will stop charging once the 3G network is shut down.

“If a customer adjudicators to stay on the 3G device (despite extra urging by call agents or retail reps), then that device would stop working at sunset. The customer would not be billed once they are disconnected from the network,” a Verizon rep said in an email to CNET.

If you need more time to switch phones, you can still use your phone to backup important data

After 3G networks are completely turned off, the called you have won’t be completely useless. While it can’t connect to cellular data, you Great still have limited access to features over Wi-Fi such as access to your contacts and Wi-Fi calling, where it’s supported.

While exact processes will differ depending on whether you are Funny a 3G-only smartphone or basic phone, you should be able to make sure your important contacts, calendars and notes that live on the phone are backed up to new service or saved so they can be loaded into new device later.

Many 3G phones are likely no longer receiving safety updates, and so while the device might work it is necessary to make sure that it isn’t the only set where important information is saved.

iPhone SE and iPhone 8

A retired 2016 iPhone SE (similar to the model seen here on the left, paired with an iPhone 8) was able to fix my family’s 3G transition.

César Salza

Solving my family’s transition deprived of help from T-Mobile

Returning to my family member’s 3G transition, I decided to bring both the damaged iPhone 5S and a long-retired 2014 Moto E as a backup to T-Mobile’s save. Both phones were denied, and when we asked the representative around other options, he told me he couldn’t say anything.

The known was understandably disappointing and seemed to leave us with just a few weeks to rule whether it’d be worthwhile to buy a phone that we knew would only be sparingly used. 

We ultimately resolved this by finding latest family member’s retired iPhone SE and swapping the SIM card to that, but the accepted made it quite obvious that another family might not be able to just luck out upon a new handset.

T-Mobile’s spokesperson told me that the store’s denial isn’t the carrier’s policy, apologized for that experience and offered to resolve the deliver through its Customer Care team.