This week, AT&T created concern with its customer base when an email was sent out informing users that their phone would not work following an upcoming network upgrade. The solution to their problem was simply to purchase a new phone. Easy, right? Obviously not. The price of a phone can be incredibly high, especially if you're purchasing more feature-rich devices. Plus, the process of changing devices can be a challenge, either because of the transition of data or because of our general comfort level with what we already know.
However, there's a bigger problem here. While AT&T says that users should purchase a new phone soon to avoid service interruption, the network upgrade will not be happening until 2022. That means that the phone replacements, according to the company's own email, should not be required until that time. Yet, the email that was sent out doesn't reveal that information directly. Instead, you needed to click a link and read further before this important information was revealed. AT&T claims that this was an accidental omission from the email, but how many people had to vet that email before it was released? And, through that process, no one noticed that they forgot to give a time table?
On the other side of the coin is T-Mobile. Both companies are planning on shutting down their 3G networks, requiring some users to replace phones. However, T-Mobile has been very open with its information. The company's network transition will take place in January 2021, and will require users without Voice Over LTE capability to replace their devices. The company has already discontinued all incompatible devices, and will not allow customers to activate existing incompatible devices after August 4.
But, let's take a look at the major device families and where their cutoff lines are. For Apple, iPhone 6 and newer are all compatible (that's 7 generations of iPhone). For Samsung, the Galaxy S7 and newer are all compatible (5 generations), and the Galaxy Note 3 and newer are compatible. So, as you can see, it requires a very old device to be in trouble - at least in regards to the flagships. If your device is incompatible, you'll soon be receiving a text message informing you of the issue.