T-Mobile is reportedly delaying its planned shutdown of Sprint’s 3G network again to May 31st (via The T-Mo Report). If the report is accurate, it would be the second time the company has pushed the date back; originally, it was going to phase out the network in January but said in October that it would extend the deadline to March 31st.
T-Mobile didn’t immediately reply to an email from The Verge on Wednesday seeking confirmation of the new date. But a section of the iPhone global services guide on SoftBank’s website, under the header Sprint’s “CDMA Network Shutdown,” says, “due to the circumstances of Sprint, the date has been postponed from March 31, 2022 to May 31, 2022.” It adds that there’s also a possibility the May 31st date may also be “rescheduled in the future.” According to The T-Mo Report, some Sprint customers received emails from T-Mobile that confirmed the May 31st shutdown date.
As one of the conditions of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger, which closed in 2020, Dish acquired Boost Mobile in July 2020 with the goal of Dish taking Sprint’s place as a fourth wireless carrier in the US. After T-Mobile announced it planned to shut down Sprint’s CDMA network, the two companies engaged in some back-and-forth criticisms of each other; Dish chairman Charlie Ergen compared T-Mobile to the Grinch; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert wrote in a blog post that Dish was “dragging their feet in getting their customers upgraded to the superior 4G/5G world.”
At stake is the impact the shutdown will have on Dish’s Boost Mobile customers. The Department of Justice told Dish Network and T-Mobile in a July 2021 letter that it had “grave concerns” about the shutdown of Sprint’s legacy network and urged the companies to take “all appropriate steps” to reduce the effect on customers who rely on the network.
When it announced the delay to the end of March, T-Mobile released a statement saying its “partners” had not followed through “on their responsibility to help their customers through this shift” and that it was “stepping up” on the customers’ behalf. That appeared to be a thinly-veiled reference to Dish Network, whose executive VP of external legislative affairs Jeff Blum told The Verge at the time that COVID-related issues and supply-chain shortages had slowed the customer upgrades. He said the March delay was an acknowledgment by T-Mobile that shutting down the CDMA network could have a negative impact on consumers who rely on it.
Source: The Verge