AT&T made waves last week when it sent an email to customers, warning them that their phones were nearly obsolete. This email turned out to be a false alarm as customers did not have to upgrade until 2022. T-Mobile customers need to take notice as the carrier is about to send out a similar email, and this one is for real.
According to an internal T-Mobile document obtained by Android Police, T-Mobile is ready to sunset phones that do not support voice over LTE (VoLTE). Unlike AT&T, which is making this transition in 2022, T-Mobile has a much more aggressive timeline.
The wireless carrier plans to phase out all non-VoLTE phones (iPhone 5s and earlier, any Android phone made before 2012) as soon as January 2021.
Customers with these legacy phones will be kicked off the carrier’s network as soon as that changeover is completed.
T-Mobile confirmed this change in a statement provided to Android Police.
We’re making great progress building a truly transformative nationwide 5G network. As part of that, we will be phasing out some older technologies over time to free up even more capacity for LTE and 5G. In preparation for that and to give customers the best experience, those activating new lines at T-Mobile will need a VoLTE capable device, which is all we’ve offered for years now and represents the overwhelming majority of devices on the network.T-Mobile
According to the wireless carriers, customers will be alerted about this change soon.
MVNOs, like Mint and Ting, which use T-Mobile’s network, will face the same issues and will need to upgrade their devices. Sprint customers may get a temporary pass as T-Mobile agreed to keep Sprint’s 3G network operational for three years after the merger was complete. This January 2021 timeframe falls within this three-period.