As the world inches towards 5G adoption, network operators are unsurprisingly eager to drop older networks and equipment. Unfortunately, those networks are actually still in use, leading some carriers to reconsider their plans. Verizon, which would have been the earliest among its peers, has decided to forego shutting down its 3G network until further notice. AT&T, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have any plans on budging and its Cricket Wireless business will now be following its footsteps, announcing big changes to its BYOP program starting next week.
AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network and services by February 2022. At that point, it will no longer support devices not capable of connecting to at least 4G LTE networks. Unsurprisingly, Cricket Wireless, which it owns, is announcing a similar timeline but the implications could actually be a bit more complicated than with other carriers.
Cricket won’t be shutting down 3G services until February 2022, giving existing customers a lot of time to switch to a device that’s not only LTE-capable but also HD Voice-capable. Starting January 19, 2019, however, it will no longer activate 3G-only devices that customers bring in via Cricket’s Bring Your Own Phone program.
Android Police, however, points out that it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Cricket Wireless’ BYOP uses a whitelist of devices it allows to be activated on the network, a list you might not know beforehand. Unfortunately, some subscribers have reported that even devices that are capable of both LTE connections and HD Voice calls are blocked from Cricket for some unknown reasons.
In other words, things could be a mess starting next week for subscribers bringing their own phones. Of course, they could opt to just pick one from Cricket’s own catalog to be safe but that pretty much makes the BYOP idea pointless.
UPDATE: A statement from Cricket sent to SlashGear suggests that all iPhone devices, iPhone 6 or newer, work on all carrier’s HD Voice networks, and “all AT&T new devices since 2018 work on Cricket’s HD Voice network.” A Cricket representative also suggested that because because many Android phone manufacturers design devices to “work with specific networks only,” that “some Android devices that are made to be HD Voice capable on other carrier networks might not work on Cricket’s HD Voice network.”