T-Mobile may soon be making a major change to its device activation policies.
An internal T-Mobile document has leaked out that says that T-Mobile will soon require all devices on its network to be compatible with Voice over LTE, or VoLTE. The doc shared by Android Police states that as of August 4, T-Mobile will stop activating devices that aren’t VoLTE-capable.
What’s more, T-Mobile will require all devices connecting to its network to support VoLTE starting in January 2021, the doc states.
Customers with a device on T-Mobile that’s not VoLTE-capable will not be affected by the change right now, but they will get a text from T-Mo in the near future to tell them that their phone will soon be incompatible with the network. It’s unclear if T-Mo will give them a deal on a new device that is compatible, but the doc states that “existing device offers and pricing should be utilized to right fit new and existing customers who would like to activate with or currently use non-VoLTE devices.”
These changes will also affect Metro by T-Mobile customers.
As for why it’s making this change, T-Mobile says in this document that it is “critical to our broader plans to provide T-Mobile customers the best network experience with more capacity and faster speeds.” I contacted T-Mobile for a statement regarding this change but have not yet received a response.
T-Mobile is working to grow its 4G LTE and 5G coverage, and to help it do so it’s working to decommission its 2G and 3G coverage and reuse that spectrum for 4G and 5G. This means that devices must be able to make voice calls over 4G LTE.
T-Mo recently said that as of Q1 2020, 91% of the total voice calls on its network were VoLTE. That means the vast majority of T-Mo customers are already using VoLTE and won’t be affected by this change. And as the leaked document states, all of the phones T-Mobile currently sells support VoLTE, and devices all the way back to the HTC One M9, LG G3, and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 support VoLTE.
There are still some folks who will be affected by this change, though, like some international devices that’ve been imported, which is one of the nice things you can do on this network. With the cutoff for activating non-VoLTE devices coming in just a couple weeks and the VoLTE compatibility requirement coming in a little over four months, T-Mobile should make this change official soon to give affected customers as much time as possible to move to a new device, especially with so many people still affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
UPDATE: T-Mobile has responded to this leak with a statement sent to TmoNews, confirming that customers activating new lines at T-Mobile will need a VoLTE-capable device:
“Were making great progress building a truly transformative nationwide 5G network. As part of that, we will be phasing out some older technologies over time to free up even more capacity for LTE and 5G. In preparation for that and to give customers the best experience, those activating new lines at T-Mobile will need a VoLTE capable device, which is all we’ve offered for years now and represents the overwhelming majority of devices on the network.”
UPDATE 2: When asked about the specific timeline given in the leaked document above, T-Mobile would only say that it hasn’t shared specific timing for when it’ll phase out older technologies. T-Mo’s second statement in full:
“We’ve only sold VoLTE capable devices for years, and that’s why the overwhelming majority of devices on our network are already VoLTE capable. But we’re working to get everyone on to VoLTE devices for the best network experience. We haven’t shared timing for when we’ll phase out older technologies.”
Source: Android Police