The remnants of Sprint’s network have been put out to pasture. As of yesterday, Sprint’s LTE network has been retired by its new owner, T-Mobile. That’s along with Sprint’s 3G CDMA network, which was shut down earlier this year, and what remained of T-Mobile’s own 3G network, which enters retirement today. T-Mobile spokesperson Justin Paulsen confirmed to The Verge that the network shutdowns are now underway.
It may come as a surprise that any part of Sprint’s network was still operational so recently. In April 2020, T-Mobile officially took ownership of the company, including all of its spectrum and network towers, which would ultimately be repurposed for 5G. Sprint’s 3G CDMA network was the first to go when T-Mobile started to shut down Sprint’s systems in March. It had originally planned to sunset the network at the end of 2021, but after a heated debate over anti-competitive behavior during which Dish chairman Charlie Ergen called T-Mobile a Grinch, the date was pushed back.
Sprint’s LTE network followed later and was set to be officially retired as of yesterday, June 30th, 2022. Unlike the company’s 3G network, which our former executive editor Dieter Bohn paid appropriate tribute to in his Sprint eulogy, there’s not much of a reason to mourn its loss. Sprint was late to LTE after betting first on WiMAX, and as a consequence, its LTE network lagged far behind the competition by the time it was up and running. It was flat-out bad, actually.
If you are somehow still using a phone running on Sprint LTE or T-Mobile’s 3G, there’s a very high chance that you’ve already encountered problems with your service. In any case, T-Mobile will be more than happy to get a 5G phone in your hands. Paulsen says, “Customers who needed to take action as a result of these retirement efforts were notified well ahead of time and received an offer for a free 5G replacement device.”
If the deprecation of legacy wireless networks brings a tear to your eye, take heart: T-Mobile’s 2G GSM network is still, somehow, operational. The company plans to retire it but doesn’t have a set date yet.