In October 2023, T-Mobile customers on 2G devices were notified the old network was shutting down. The date was set: impacted customers needed to upgrade their device by April 2nd, 2024. Customers on a device after the shut down would experience dropped calls, data download failures, even apps on their devices not functioning correctly.
These devices do not have the necessary network chipsets to see the frequencies T-Mobile uses for its 4G/5G networks, so 2G shutoff effectively means the device will not longer get signal. This includes the device’s ability to dial 911, which is a major concern to get new devices in impacted customers’ hands.
It’s worth noting that there shouldn’t be many consumer devices out there still in use out there in the wild. The company previously announced, and then followed through with, their 3G network shutdown all the way back in mid-2022, and three months before that, they shut down Sprint’s 3G, too. Most devices that would rely on 2G would also have relied on 3G, so those devices should pretty much all be upgraded by now.
On a bright note, these impacted customers were encouraged to upgrade their legacy devices. T-Mobile is making all SIM charges, device connectivity charges (DDC), and any associated taxes and fees waived for those who upgrade. Employees were encouraged to leverage existing promotions to get customers into a new device, but reactive free device offers did exist too. You can see our original coverage of the move here, including the ‘reactive’ offer device list.
It now appears T-Mobile needs a little more time before letting go of 2G. In their T-Mobile Network Evolution article, an update has posted detailing the decommissioning of the 2G network, where previously it stated a firm date:
Why The Delay?
It may seem odd to decommission 3G, a newer technology, almost 2 years before decommissioning 2G. Why not go in order of age? There’s a good reason: IoT.
IoT (Internet of Things) refers to small or light-use devices that need constant internet connections in areas without an existing internet connection, or in areas where one may not make sense. For example, older kiosk devices (think the Redbox movie dispenser sitting outside your local Walgreens) or simple tracker devices that need to occasionally report their location. Most of these types of devices still in use are being used by businesses.
These devices, by the nature of them being business-owned, often take much longer to replace and upgrade. Imagine an entire bank needing to upgrade every ATM they own.
If You Are On The List, Make Your Move
If you are somehow still an impacted customer and have not upgraded yet, using a 2G phone in 2024 has you on long-borrowed time. T-Mobile has made clear that some 2G (GSM) sites are going to be decommissioned ahead of the full network retirement date (and some already have been). This means your area could have 2G shut down ahead of whatever date they do eventually decide on. Once that happens, you’ll get no more signal. Time is of the essence to move on from the dated network.
T-Mobile is the last carrier to still have 2G bands active, as Verizon and AT&T have already moved on. As mentioned, T-Mobile has also already decommissioned both theirs and Sprint’s former 3G networks, and even Sprint’s LTE network was taken offline in 2022.
The 2G network maintenance and space will no doubt be an understandable deactivation in the future to make way for better, faster connectivity. In this case, freeing up the tower space and manpower needed to maintain 2G in order to continue 5G deployment instead makes perfect sense. Old habits die hard, but in this case, T-Mobile likely wants it done as soon as possible.