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Fair enough. I don’t know of any modern phone that doesn’t do volte though, so I guess I don’t know. I personally haven’t been paying attention because I’m using a pixel 5a and don’t expect my L5 any time soon.

The remaining final shutdowns are currently scheduled as follows:
Sprint (owned by T-mobile) - March 31, 2022
T-mobile - July 1, 2022
Verizon - December 31, 2022

Besides having the capability, a phone apparently has to be certified for each network the OEM wants it to be functional with. So some regional models/firmwares will have VoLTE in some countries, but not in others. So AT&T, for example, will allow a certain regional variant of, say, a Samsung 20, but not other, international, variants of the same device. See this PDF from AT&T.

But maybe we’re hijacking this thread a bit too much…


In simple terms, does it mean that some people’s phones will simply stop working on those dates if they are a customer of those above that you mention?

Only calls. Data should still work.

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If their phone manufacturer has tested and certified their phone model with the particular network’s VoLTE technology, then they will continue to work. If not, the network will probably reject the phone and push the customer to get a different, workable phone…in fact, the network has probably informed those customers already.

But the network will probably not allow the phone to remain on the network if it can’t do VoLTE. The network legally has to provide the ability to call emergency services.

I don’t think volte will affect that one way or another, that’s an enormous lawsuit waiting to happen.

I think @amarok’s point is that … giving service to a customer but not allowing phone calls (because the phone doesn’t support VoLTE) is a higher legal risk to the telco than simply withdrawing service from the customer (provided that the customer does not have a fixed term contract that is still in force).

If 3G goes away (so VoLTE only), there is no magic way of still being able to make a call to emergency services.

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Maybe so. I admit I don’t know the details of the law (in the US) dictating that every phone has to be able to call 911, perhaps there’s an expiration date (something like for up to 5 years after date of manufacture or whatever). And for example att sent my Dad a free replacement 4g flip phone a while back, so that may be “due diligence.”

But if the old phones can’t contact emergency services anymore, then they need to say that to everyone. It may be that they have, but I haven’t seen nor heard it.

Here are the relevant legal requirements from the FCC:

I don’t think there’s an expiration date. The service either

a) works and is provided and has 911 capability


b) does not work and is not provided (hence 911 capability is not relevant).

There is no requirement for a telco to provide 3G forever, or 2G forever, or even eventually 4G forever - or for a set amount of time other than that if the telco also sells you the phone, you have a reasonable expectation of how long the phone will be functional.

I suggested though that because of fixed term service contracts a telco would need to plan ahead for the phasing out of any technology that would have the effect of making calls cease to work.

I think this whole thing of filtering by IMEI is a clunky effort to avoid allowing phones onto the network that will not in fact work and will not in fact allow the telco to meet its legal obligation to provide 911 service.

Because of the requirement to be able to call 911 without a SIM or with a SIM but where the SIM is for the ‘wrong’ network, any mobile phone that can see the mobile network but can’t call 911 is a legal ticking timebomb, particularly in the litigation-happy US. :wink:

Effectively therefore all three networks need to kill 3G on dates that are as close as possible to each other. Based on a post above, 2022 is that year. You should have to prove that your phone supports VoLTE (in the US). (Doing it by IMEI doesn’t seem like the best approach to that however.)

This isn’t an entirely theoretical discussion. I am reminded of:

If they had had a non-VoLTE phone and they did have 4G service (NB: they didn’t), I can see it ending up in court very quickly. Ironically, a 911 app could work in that scenario. I have my doubts that emergency services allow that (contact via the internet) however. VoIP calling could work.

The IMEI thing is a good point. I admit I don’t know all the details of the 911 requirement, surely it’s been taken into account though. I’ll just hope none of us ever have to find out for sure.