T-Mobile customers worried about the CDMA shutdown can all collectively breathe a sigh of relief… for now. T-Mobile announced that it will extend its CDMA network shutdown to March 31, 2022, instead of January 1, 2022. This deadline extension will give DISH Network more time to transition Boost Mobile customers off CDMA.
T-Mobile said in a statement on Friday, “This decision has no material financial impact to our business, and the rapid pace of our 5G buildout will continue,” the company continued, “Our reason for extending is simple: we want to give those partners who haven’t done the right thing for their customers every opportunity to step up now and do so.”
T-Mobile has already put DISH Network on blast, saying that the new wireless operator was “dragging their feet” in getting the affected customers upgraded and wasn’t shy, saying, “There should be no more room for excuses. We have provided even more time, and those partners can follow suit with the effort that is needed to ensure no one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
DISH, however, hasn’t taken the accusations lightly, with DISH Chairman Charlie Ergen saying this year that T-Mobile President and CEO Mike Sievert was a magenta “Grinch” and that T-Mobile was displaying anti-competitive behavior.
DISH shot back at T-Mobile, saying that the three-month extension isn’t enough time to migrate customers off CDMA and that the company has been affected by the ongoing pandemic and supply chain issues.
“T-Mobile’s announcement is a recognition that its premature shutdown of the CDMA network will harm consumers who rely on this network for critical connectivity, including 911. While additional time is welcome, three months is not nearly sufficient to protect the well over one million Boost consumers – many of whom are low income – projected to still need access to this network beyond March 31, 2022,” said Jeff Blum, Dish EVP of External and Legislative Affairs, in a statement. “While DISH has successfully migrated millions of consumers off the CDMA network, migrations of this scale are complex and take time. Despite DISH’s significant migration efforts to date, supply chain cellphone shortages, COVID-related interruptions, and other economic challenges continue to constrain upgrades.”
Blum continued, “Given T-Mobile’s new admission that continuing the operation of its CDMA network will have ‘no material financial impact’ to its business and 5G buildout, we urge the company to live up to its promises to regulators. DISH stands ready to work with T-Mobile on behalf of consumers to ensure that they are protected and not disenfranchised because T-Mobile decided to go back on its word.”
Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is digging into T-Mobile’s claims about the CDMA shutdown and held a hearing last month regarding the statement T-Mobile made about keeping the CDMA network up long enough for DISH to migrate any existing customers off. DISH has until October 29 to submit its response.
The feud became public in February 2021 when DISH revealed that T-Mobile had informed the satellite TV provider turned wireless operator that it would shut down its CDMA network almost a year and a half earlier than anticipated. DISH was under the impression that the company had three years to migrate Boost Mobile subscribers currently on the CDMA network to new handsets that work on T-Mobile’s new network or until July 2023.
T-Mobile informed DISH of the early shutdown in October 2020 and that it was contractually legal, whereas DISH described it was because of T-Mobile’s “greed.”
All of this to say that without DISH, the merger that launched T-Mobile into the #1 spot as far as 5G networks go, wouldn’t have happened. With Sprint, T-Mobile became the #2 wireless operator in the U.S. through the number of subscribers and immediately gained a ton of valuable 2.5 spectrum that put it on top as the 5G network leader.