T-Mobile 3G network shutdown has a new and hopefully final date

5G has been the battle cry of network operators and device manufacturers for a few years now, but the push hasn't been as fast or as easy as they had hoped. In addition to setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wireless carriers' plans to retire old networks and technologies to free up resources have also been met with some resistance and delays. That said, the deadline for 3G networks is can no longer be delayed, and T-Mobile is finally setting its foot down on when it will shut down not only its own 3G network but also Sprint's 3G and LTE networks.

Many carriers wanted to put their 3G technologies and services to rest by 2021. The pandemic made that impractical, and pushback from consumers and regulators forced them to reschedule. Most of the dates have been pushed back to 2022, with Verizon being the last to pull the plug.

After multiple changes, T-Mobile is setting its foot down on a solid timeline, at least for now. On its page for tracking its "Network Evolution," the carrier notes that it will be shutting down its 3G UMTS network on July 1, 2022. That gives customers and partners enough time to prepare for the inevitable, mostly by upgrading to supported 4G or 5G devices.

T-Mobile is also putting down the dates for the retirement of Sprint's network. Sprint's 3G will go dark on January 1, 2022, while its 4G LTE network will cease to operate on June 30, 2022. The latter is part of T-Mobile's strategy to move everyone to a single T-Mobile network and affected Sprint customers need only swap their Sprint SIM card for a T-Mobile one.

T-Mobile promises to support its customers and partners through the transition, but it hasn't publicly committed to how. It might follow AT&T's surprising move to offer free 4G phones to those that will be affected by its 3G network shutdown. Replacing 3G phones with compatible models might not be that difficult, but owners and operators of IoT devices might need to do more work in migrating to a more future-proof system.