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T-Mobile delays shutdown of Sprint 3G network by three months

The new date is March 31.

Sprint 3G is sticking around for a little longer
Sprint 3G is sticking around for a little longer.
Angela Lang/CNET

T-Mobile continues to update its network to 5G, but subsidiary Sprint's 3G network has a few more months before it's taken offline. The carrier originally planned to shut down its antiquated network on Jan. 1, but as part of an ongoing dispute and an escalating war of words with rival Dish it has delayed those plans.

The 3G network will stay up until March 31, T-Mobile said in a press release Friday. The company says the three-month extension is due to some of its partners that "haven't followed through on their responsibility to help their customers through this shift." 

There were no specifics provided on which partner, but in recent months, Dish has taken issue with the Jan. 1 deadline. Dish owns Boost Mobile, which still makes use of Sprint's 3G network for its customers. The company said Boost customers could lose their service on that date, and Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said T-Mobile has "become the Grinch." T-Mobile responded in kind in August by saying Dish has been "dragging their feet" on upgrading customers and calling it a manufactured crisis. 

On Monday, Dish returned fire. 

"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," Jeff Blum, Dish's executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a statement. 

"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."

Blum says that Dish has "successfully migrated millions of consumers" off of the 3G network but notes that "migrations of this scale are complex and take time." 

"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," he adds, calling for T-Mobile to keep the CDMA network operational until 2023. 

CNET's Eli Blumenthal contributed to this story.