T-Mobile will reportedly soon require VoLTE on devices connecting to its network

tmobile-logo-large

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.

tmobile-volte-required-leak

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:

“We’re 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

Tags: , , ,

  • This rather strongly implies that HSPA and EDGE (which are currently still “on” in many areas) may start being turned “off.” Spectrum re-purposing is on the way, I presume.

    • slybacon

      Hopefully!

    • marque2

      HSPA and HSPA+ were the ultimate conclusion to the 3g line. But I wonder if the announcement includes the HSPA – might they not be just turning of the plain vanilla 3g or are these all one and the same any more?

      • I expect they’re getting rid of all fixed-bandwidth voice entirely. They may not say it, but that’s what I fully expect they’re doing. There’s a fairly clean argument for doing it on a spectrum use basis… but obviously it will piss off some percentage of customers. They must figure it’s a low enough number at this point they don’t care.

  • fromtheright

    Does this mean that all major carriers including T-Mobile are finally dumping 3G? What about Onstar et. al. car cell connectivity?

    • Mike

      That’s a good question about Onstar.. will people have to get a newer vehicle? Think on star works with Verizon?

    • squiggleslash

      Long term it’s inevitable. But bear in mind T-Mo hasn’t turned off their 2G GSM network yet – that said, there’s less reason to turn it off, a bare bones 2G GSM network only requires a few hundred kHz of spectrum, while UMTS (3G) requires a minimum of 5MHz. 3G is taking up valuable resources, and offers absolutely no advantages over LTE beyond compatibility with legacy equipment.

      I hate that people are going to have to stop using their favorite devices, but this is one instance where I think it’s justifiable. 3G is a dead end, 4G is more reliable, it covers an area better when implemented, it provides far more bandwidth to end users and may even obviate the need for the constant rationing and data caps (or at least make them comparable to wireline Internet) if it can be given the spectrum currently given to 3G.

      As for OnStar, in theory GM can sell an upgrade package.This wouldn’t be the first time they’ve had to change standards. In theory after the first time they learned their lesson but who knows?

      • agent_smith

        Well, I mean, WCDMA and CDMA (3G) are actually way more reliable than LTE and work much better in long-distance coverage and noisy RF environment scenarios, but carriers keep pushing L is better because they don’t want to pay the patent cost. In T-Mobile’s case L may look more reliable only because they’ve only ever used W on band 2 or 4, except that one east coast place where they have a band 2 license.

        • squiggleslash

          > Well, I mean, WCDMA and CDMA (3G) are actually way more reliable than
          LTE and work much better in long-distance coverage and noisy RF
          environment scenarios, but carriers keep pushing L is better because
          they don’t want to pay the patent cost

          I’m not sure where you’re getting any of that from. Code Division Multiple Access is hot garbage. It always has been. It’s never been particularly reliable, and it’s oriented towards circuit switching which means things like data are handled by creating virtual circuits which are always being set up and torn down, which is horribly inefficient, sucks battery life, and adds latency. The underlying concept was pioneered in the 1990s because at that time cellphones were only used for phone calls. The underlying air interface technology was adopted for the 3G variant of GSM, UMTS, solely because of a massive lobbying campaign and the fact phone companies still hadn’t come to terms with the idea that everything is data.

          The results have been an unmitigated disaster. If it hadn’t been for governments around the world handing out more spectrum to phone companies, you’d probably still be limited to a few hundred kilobytes per second when using your 3G devices. And in the mean time, it took the industry something like ten years to create UMTS networks that were as reliable as 2G GSM.

          The “Better with long distance coverage” and “noisy RF environment scenarios” stuff sounds like you’ve been reading propaganda. OFDMA beats code division multiple access systems in the latter (why do you think we use it for Wifi?) while the former has nothing to do with the underlying technologies. Nor is there some patent advantages LTE has over CDMA, in fact LTE is a newer technology. And you don’t address the massive efficiency improvements that mean LTE means far more bandwidth available to end users per kilohertz of spectrum.

          The only factor that might make some LTE networks less reliable than the code division networks they replace are that LTE hardware is newer and so still being tweaked. The underlying technology, which uses massive redundancies to transmit data, is more solid than a wired DSL connection. It’s awesome. The death of 3G can’t come soon enough.

    • anon_coward

      yes, and I’ve read many older cars will lose the online features

    • slybacon

      My 2016 truck uses AT&T 4G LTE for wifi. Does it not use LTE for other Onstar services as well?

      • dl_crash

        Shoot is are caused by AT&t volte? I read it all Wong.

  • Mike

    The money is in new devices. So many will have to pick something newer. Happy shopping for highly priced phones.

    • slybacon

      Only up to 9% of Tmo customers.. 91% are already fine. Many may naturally update over the next 5 months anyway.

      • marque2

        It is phones produced before
        2016 – so we are talking people with 6 year plus old phones by Jan 31. Some people did byod with substandard phones but even 9% seems like a lot to me.

      • Mike

        That’s probably older folks that don’t use data, obviously. Hope they can offer them a simple phone so they don’t have to play the phone game. Of course some folks like to keep things simple.

        • marque2

          Smart phones aren’t that expensive any more – $150 gets you a very usable phone. However I see your point with older people. My mom, it took me forever to teach her very basic things about a smart phone and if she had to get a new one (even Android to Android) it would be an effort to show her how things changed.

        • Mike

          I agree that some devices are cheaper, but the price of high end phones is out of hand. The cheaper ones they try to sell are missing some 5g bands.. People have to do there shopping very wisely. Older folks won’t dig deep into the specs of new phones. Some just want a phone that makes calls, just like my Aunt.

        • dl_crash

          Most 5G rides over LTE core anyway. 5G phones won’t matter for 2 years and there’ll be plenty of cheap ones by then. As for your aunt there are a few volte flip phone available. So quit wasting time online and go help her find one.

        • Mike

          She is an adult and can take care of herself. And I’m not wasting my time online, because facts are facts. No cell phone should be over $1000.00, unless it’s plated in pure gold. If people would quite the “I gotta have it first syndrome” then new phones might be priced more appropriate to begin with. Also, this crap of doing a trade in don’t help new phone prices either, as a matter of fact, prices have increased. Plus, now they make you have a new phone or else you won’t get a trade, so basically it’s a phone game, and the consumer loses.

        • dl_crash

          There are several volte capable flip phones.

      • Mike

        Wonder what percentage of 91 had made the jump to 5g phones so far?

        • slybacon

          I would say not very many…

    • Not really there are plenty cheap unlocked volte capable devices.

      • Mike

        True, if you don’t mind having a 2 year or older phone with minimal features.

        • fortune_three_diamond_hoe

          If you’re like me, using a older device already, you probably don’t care much about “features.” You want a device that gets texts, has a browser, and takes a decent picture.

        • Mike

          Yes I’m for a phone that just works. I really don’t get why new ones need to cost near a $1000.00 Or more. What I have found out is you have to really shop closely because some phones won’t cover all the new bands. Guess maybe a deal will come out soon that fits?

        • Shaun Michalak

          I think what gets me is when they say, but it comes with 64gb of space.. I sit back and think.. Hmm. A 64gb Micro SD card costs what?? $10 off of amazon, and that is for a class 10 card.. But they use that excuse to up the price by hundreds of dollars?? Not only that, but you can take that card with you to the next phone too.. So it is a one time buy.. and lets be real.. The main reason that most people need the storage space is because of photos, and things like that.. Not because of regularly used programs on the phone.. So it really is not going to make much of a difference if you have them on a MicroSD or the phone..

        • Shaun Michalak

          If you are using a 10 + year old phone, I doubt that you care.. After all, even a cheap 2 year old phone is going to have much more storage capacity, faster processors, better camera, etc..

          Just look at the Galaxy S2.. That was more of a top of the line phone at that time, and it only has a 1.2ghz duel core processor.. 1 gig ram.. 8mp camera, 2mp selfie camera.. etc.. Even low end phones these days beats all of that.. and if you have a cheaper phone, or older.. You may only have a single core processor, 1 gig storage, and 1/2 gig ram..

        • Mike

          I have a J7 that I’m using now, it’s a great phone but the one problem is it’s missing B 66 and B 71. So that’s where I am now, hoping for a 5g phone eventually that will have all bands. Only problem is the next auction, that may force yet another phone again. So guess i wait..

        • Shaun Michalak

          B66 is just a faster version of band 4, so no increase in coverage there.. Band 71, if you travel a lot, or if you live / drive a lot in rural areas, and it is installed in that area, is definitely worth having.. Would I spend hundreds of dollars for a new phone just to get it?? Nope.. But if you use closer to budget phones, then it is worth upgrading to a new phone for the band 71 support and coverage.. You will not get faster speeds with it, just better coverage..

        • Mike

          Band 41 will be the other one im looking for also, so if i can find one that i like that has all the layer cake for 5g and at a price point that is good, im in.. Only thing now is prices seem to be high mostly because of 5g hype. So when a phone gets around 250 or 300 I’m good to go.

        • Shaun Michalak

          Unless you are talking a hotspot (home internet, etc) or something, then price really should not matter.. As long as you have an unlimited plan on your phone, 4G.. 5G.. It makes no difference.. The price is the same for both..

        • Mike

          Well I use hotspot occasionally for a laptop, and have for years, so that feature is good to have. Only thing about that is the data shouldn’t be treated differently. I believe you should be able to use the phone data as long as only 1 thing is tethered at a time. Then if they want to limit hotspot for more than one device then so be it. So for 1 single tethered item I wish they just say it’s unlimited unless you tether two devices or more.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I can understand both sides on that one.. Just think of Netflix.. Do I want to spend 3 hours watching Netflix on a phone, or tablet?? Nope.. But I do not mind on a TV, computer, or laptop.. and you are more likely to want HD on them too.. Then do not forget data use on laptops vs cell phones.. I would bet that the data use to load one page on a computer is at least 10 times the data of the same page on a cell phone.. I think that is why they limit it on phones..,

        • Mike

          My laptop don’t use more data then my cell phone..it pulls up the same web data, it’s just a bigger screen. I’ve done many college classes using my tethered data and I have never found it to run my data up, but of course, I don’t set my computer to 1080p. Now if I was streaming video at 1080 it would use more data, but the same goes for the phone.

        • Shaun Michalak

          Just pull up listings on Ebay.. That will change your mind.. They only pull up a fraction of the listing on cell phones, unless you click multiple pages to get to all the info.. It is annoying.. I have also noticed less ad’s (not like they use a lot of data anyways) on cell pages too. So I guess it all depends on what you are doing, and where you are on the web as to how much of a difference it makes.

        • Mike

          I believe that on eBay. More data will occur. On this phone I can change it to desk top view, and with that it can use more data. I’d actually like to know how much data is used towards ads ? I have actually noticed an increase of ads, look how many are on this page alone. That non net neutrality caused more ads to show up everywhere.

        • Shaun Michalak

          You said it right there.. You can change to desktop view which uses more data. I am not sure what phones have that ability, or not.. Me, I hate the cell version of web sites.. I prefer the sites on a regular computer.. But like you said, that uses more data.. But i guess that would all depend on the person, and how they access the net..

        • Mike

          My J7 has that feature, so it comes in handy sometimes, although the screen will be so full if using the desktop mode. It is also good for those few sites that don’t have mobile view. I’d bet the new S 20 has the feature?

  • fortune_three_diamond_hoe

    Hopefully this just means that existing devices won’t be able to make voice calls, we certainly can’t afford to replace the LTE modems we’re using.

    I guess it does mean that the old 2G devices we have on M2M units are going to shut off soon, but we knew that.

    As far as my personal device, I wish they’d let me go back on the 0 minutes/SMS and Data only plan I had years ago. I’ve spent 0 minutes this month talking to 0 people, which is 0 minutes more than I used last month…

    (assuming because I’ve seen other devices similar to mine drop on to H+ or 3G when they make voice calls.)

    • dl_crash

      They have a Deaf hearing impaired plan that is voice barred, but your prolly better off with the current unlimited plans. You can always add voice barred to your plan for free. Or unconditional call forward to a invalid number.

      • fortune_three_diamond_hoe

        I used to have that plan because I make no voice calls. They still offer it?

        I don’t really have the money to be spending on a device, especially considering the Motorola device I have now isn’t really all that old. I’m hoping it will just mean the device won’t take/make calls after the cutoff.

        I was getting so many spam and garbage calls I had them shut the voicemail off for my number. Maybe it’s time to have voice turned off again.

  • Tale 85

    Spectrum Gateway keeps a list of phones compatible with T-Mobile VoLTE.

  • it’s crazy 2g and 3g will be a thing of the past time really flies

  • €¥€©£™»

    I love to flex my Verizon in areas where others are having trouble. At a Chiefs game I get to turn on my hotspot to give my Att and tmobile friends usable internet speeds. At work I am often the only person in the building with signal. Verizon is the only mobile carrier in the USA. The others only support limited mobility at crippled speeds with high latency and marketing practices that are blatant out right lies.

    • Jeremiah

      It all depends on the network. I’ve had to share my T-Mobile hotspot with my buddy on AT&T multiple times. Sweeping generalizations do nothing good for anyone.

      • Shaun Michalak

        I think what really makes me laugh about people that stand up for Verizon, like it is the “only” real cell company, is how they leave out all the details.. Go compare WV on Verizon vs AT&T and T-Mobile.. Verizon even admits on their own site that they have almost no coverage in West Virginia.. Or how about the fact that they take credit for it being Verizon coverage, when half, or almost half of the states of Kentucky and Montana, or that large chucks of the coverage of 8 other states are not verizon towers.. They are mostly locally owned towers that local municipalities put up so that they could get coverage because verizon refuses to put their own towers up.. Yet they take credit for them.

        That is like me buying a truck, and letting my friend borrow it, and him talking about how good his truck is, when in fact, he does not own a truck.. he just borrows one.. Yea, Verizon may have overall more coverage, because of these “leased” towers for coverage that they do not own.. But at least AT&T and T-Mobile actually owns all of their towers, and put their own towers. They did not rely on other people to do the job to improve their networks.. They did it themselves.. It kind of looses its meaning about bragging rights when a good portion of the coverage that they have, was not because of anything that they did to put it up.. But then again, if they admitted to that, there goes their bragging rights.. lol

    • Shaun Michalak

      I tell you what.. Come up and try that where my friend works.. We need a good laugh.. Because inside the building, he can barely get any kind of signal from Verizon.. Yet close to full bars with AT&T.. I looked it up, and where he works gets a signal from 3 different towers.. The thing is, all 3 towers coverage cut off right where he works..

      I went down to spartansburgh, PA, and was eating with a friend.. She had 2 bars at best, and I was flipping between 4 and 5 bars.. Or how about lets check out Albion, PA.. Yea, verizon is 1 bar there (2 if you get lucky), and 4 to 5 bars for both AT&T and T-Mobile.. So yea.. come on down.. We will test your ideals that Verizon is the “only” carrier..

  • Zephyr

    I live in an area where there are lots of gaps in TMo coverage and I frequently see the phone drop down to the little H on the signal indicator, but it is nice to know I can still send and receive calls at least. I guess this will mean the end of that capability. As much as I love my grandfathered 2 lines for $60 of unlimited with TMo I might have to seriously consider another carrier if I find my phone has no service in these areas that I frequent. On the other hand, I am old enough so I don’t break out in a cold sweat when I have no phone service!

    • Shaun Michalak

      If your phone does not support band 71, then I would get one and check service with it before you go to another company.. There are some places that they have it installed, that it does not make much of a difference in coverage.. But there are other places that it makes a huge difference.. You may not get great speeds on band 71, but it does increase actual coverage in some places..

      PS.. I am with you on the old enough part.. I love watching people that are addicted to their phones go crazy when they can not charge them, and their phone dies.. You would think that they were an alcoholic and just stopped drinking 3 days ago.. They go that crazy.. What makes it worse is when they are not smart enough to think.. Hey, I can charge it in my car.. I have seen the same thing happen when the power goes out.. Oh, the TV is out, what am I going to do?? How am I going to make supper without the power?? In my opinion, people are way too addicted to electronics.

  • Sharti24

    About time. There’s no need to have 2G/3G when there’s currently 5G deployed. I hate when my iphone connects to 4G hspa or Edge in weak areas.

    I hope t-mobile commits to this and sunsets the old networks by Feb. 1, 2021

    • Shaun Michalak

      I hope they do something with their phones that they find “T-mobile” towers better.. It is annoying when there is a T-Mobile tower around, and my phone will not drop off of an AT&T network connection..

      • Dantay Williams

        I have this problem all the time too on Sprint. My iPhone will always prioritize AT&T over T-Mobile no matter what conditions are. I’ve called customer service and they said there’s nothing they can do about it.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I wish there was a way to set the settings on the phone to not use partner towers at times..

        • Dantay Williams

          I agree.

  • Bklynman

    So someone can go buy 1st Galaxy or the Galaxy 2 use it,then they might get a offer from tmo to buy new handset at a discount? What about tablets,mobile hot spots?

    • Sean sorlie

      You dont make standard calls on Tablets and Hotspots.

      • Bklynman

        They have plenty of them out there. Just wondering what will happen to them.

    • Shaun Michalak

      They only talked about phones, not tablets.. But since those are 3G devices, they probably would not even activate it.. well, pretty soon they will not.. so unless you do it right now, it is moog point about them..

      • Bklynman

        No, I was just wondering. Because they didn’t mention them in the article. I use V-30 as back up for now. But if I can get new midlevel phone at good discount price and the phone of my choice,I will take Lg Stlyo 6. My main phone is the N9,so I can get one older phone or use my Amaze as a back up, hoping they offer good discount.

        • marque2

          V30 does VoLTE. You don’t have an issue. The phones with problems are about 5 years old. Every phone that supports 700hz and was allowed to use 700hz on the network has VoLTE

  • Sharti24

    So Sprint phones that are capable of volte but dont allow it are going to get a firmware update to enable it? ie iPhone 7.

    • Nick

      I’d assume there is going to be a carrier update that allows the 6 and newer (2014+) since T-mobile and every other carrier allows 6 and newer for volte

  • impasse

    okay but what if i have an unlocked xperia xz2 that sony and t-mobile never bothered getting to work with volte and/or wifi calling? :'(