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Cricket starts winding down 3G network, presenting a big problem for BYOD customers

If you're still using an old, non-LTE-capable phone on Cricket, we have bad news: the company will be shutting down its 3G UMTS networks in February 2022. Additionally, customers will no longer be able to activate their unsupported devices on Cricket starting January 19th, which is only a few days away. Because of the way Cricket handles BYOD phones, this is a real problem.

There's been a lot of talk about US carriers, namely AT&T (which owns Cricket), Verizon, and T-Mobile, shutting down their 3G networks recently, and Cricket is the latest to join the party. The actual shutdown is set to happen in February 2022, which is, unsurprisingly, the same date given for AT&T. However, if you were hoping to bring a device to activate on Cricket after January 19th (of this year), just make sure it's HD Voice-capable (VoLTE) or is an LTE-capable data-only device.

However, the issue goes deeper than that, as customers are running into the same issue we reported with AT&T last year. Like AT&T, Cricket operates a BYOD whitelist, only allowing devices on that list to take advantage of HD Voice / VoLTE. However, there are many newer LTE/5G phones out there that do support VoLTE, but aren't on that list. Those phones not on the whitelist will be treated no differently than regular 3G phones; they won't be able to be activated after January 19th, and they won't be able to use the network at all after February 2022.

In fact, even devices listed as compatible on AT&T's whitelist aren't working with Cricket. One commenter in the Cricket subreddit has a Galaxy Z Fold2 5G — one of the most expensive, high-tech new phones you can buy — with a model number listed as supported on AT&T's list, and yet is unable to make calls over LTE on Cricket. If Cricket doesn't update its own whitelist by January 19th, customers with that model of Z Fold2 (and countless other perfectly good VoLTE-capable phones) will be unable to activate them.

The 3G shutdown is perfectly understandable, but due to the way AT&T and Cricket handle phones not sold directly by them, many customers will be hit hard by this change. Here's hoping AT&T and Cricket can sort this issue out before January 19th, but we're not holding our breaths.

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