It's time to move on, folks! From the 2G and 3G networks of yesteryear, that is, as Verizon, T-Mobile with Sprint, and AT&T have all announced their legacy network shutdown dates, or are sending letters to business customers regarding the 3G and 2G networks sunset.
While it is not exactly clear what will happen to your IoT connections just yet, such as the weather news in your BMW, those who have oldie 3G phones will see them stop working when T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T shut their 3G networks down. As for 2G networks, those take much less spectrum to service, and a bunch of gear still uses them, so some carriers are being more generous with their retirement.
Here are the 2G/3G (and even 4G LTE in the case of Sprint) network shutdown dates as customers will be moved to T-Mobile connections on the runup to the complete Sprint network sunset.
T-Mobile and Sprint 3G/2G/4G LTE network shutdown dates
Sprint 3G network shutdown date: January 1, 2022
Sprint 4G LTE network sunset date: June 30, 2022
T-Mobile 3G network shutdown date: April 1, 2022 (formerly October 1st, 2021)
T-Mobile 2G network shutdown date: January 1, 2023
T-Mobile has listed the dates for shutting down Sprint's 3G and 4G LTE networks, and migrating people to modern broadband speed pastures. These are January 1, 2022 for Sprint's 3G network sunset, and June 30, 2022 for the 4G LTE connections, respectively.
What it kept mum on, however, was the retirement of its own legacy 2G GSM and 3G UMTS networks, for which only a statement that "no date has been set" is currently available on T-Mobile's support pages.
Thanks to the letters it is sending out to businesses subscribers, though, we knew that it plans to shut down its 3G network October 1st, yet a new tip sets the T-Mobile 3G network sunset date to be in April 2022, while the 2G network will most likely last through the end of next year.
Verizon 3G network shutdown date
Verizon 3G network sunset: January 1, 2023
After December 31st, 2022, says Verizon, if you are a Big Red customer still using a device that is 3G (CDMA) or 4G that does not support HD Voice (Non-VoLTE), the device will no longer make/receive calls, send/receive text messages, or use data services. Until this date, your device will still be able to use these services.
Verizon's 2G network is already sunset but don't worry about its 4G LTE network as this will be around together with Verizon's 5G coverage years to come, so no need to switch to 5G phones just yet, unless you want some of the perks that come with those.
AT&T 3G network shutdown date and free phone replacement
AT&T 3G network sunset: February 1, 2022
Free phone: AT&T RADIANT Core
AT&T announced February 1, 2022 as its 3G network shutdown date, and warns that the carrier would "no longer activate phones that don't support HD Voice since they won't be compatible to work on our network when 3G shuts down." Same as with Verizon's 3G network shutdown, basically.
As for the all-important question about that AT&T 3G network shutdown free phone replacement that Ma Bell has been offering to subscribers to soothe their sunset pain, it's not really worth it. Granted, the free phone that AT&T offers will be able to hook you up to its modern network but don't expect wonders from a handset called AT&T RADIANT Core that has been a prepaid offer since 2019 and has a 5MP rear camera.
Will my 3G phone stop working when T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T shut down their 3G networks
Unfortunately, yes, for the most part. "When we shut down the 3G network, there won't be data or voice service for devices that don't have at least have 4G capabilities. This means that while some device features might still work, you won't be able to access our network unless you upgrade to a newer device," says AT&T, and that is valid for all 3G phones on all carriers when their respective networks are sunset.