T-Mobile Continues Sprint 3G Network Shutdown, How To Update USIM Card

T-Mobile is continuing its planned shutdown of the 3G Sprint network, and will cease support by May 31, but aims to limit the impact on users.

T-Mobile is continuing its planned shutdown of the Sprint 3G network and will cease support no later than May 31, 2022, but aims to reduce the effect on consumers with a staggered discontinuation. The major cellular carriers in the United States have planned to sunset their respective 3G networks to free up bandwidth for other more desirable services, like 5G networking. These companies, including T-Mobile, have been wrestling with the problems that would correspond with a shutdown of the near-obsolete 3G networks. Many devices, including the latest cars, rely on the outdated network and would lose some or all functionality when 3G operations officially end. For the Sprint network, which became one with T-Mobile after a merger, there is a greater effect to shutting down the 3G network.


Sprint is one of the few carriers that have utilized the Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networking standard, and that standard will be shut down alongside the 3G network in the coming months. It differs from the widely-accepted Global System for Messaging (GSM) standard, which was used by the communications giant AT&T. Both networking standards are firmly on their way out of use, with the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard coming to the forefront on the modern 4G and 5G networks. However, some SIM cards — the tiny chips that identify a user’s phone number and connect a phone to a global network — might still use the outdated CDMA standard, and will require an update after Sprint terminates the 3G network.

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Despite early concerns that the planned T-Mobile shutdown would be pushed back once again — it was originally planned to sunset the outdated network back in January — it is proceeding on schedule. In a statement to The Verge, the company said it is phasing out 3G services over the next two months and will be migrating customers to supported platforms. The move is “to ensure they are supported and not left without connectivity, and the network will be completely turned off by no later than May 31,” T-Mobile confirmed. The official shutdown of Sprint’s 3G, CDMA network begins on Thursday, March 31, 2022. That means users have as little as two months to ensure that their devices will be compatible with T-Mobile’s modern cellular standards.

How To Update A USIM Card

iPhone 13 next to a SIM card

For those still using the Sprint network, phones may require an update to their cellular settings in order to connect to other networks. Even though Sprint is part of the T-Mobile network, phones still connecting to the company’s CDMA network may experience issues after the 3G shutdown. Any iPhone 6 or later is susceptible to service irregularities after the network is sunset, according to SoftBank, an international mobile communications company. Potential problems include not receiving cellular and data service in affected areas, attempting to connect to other networks, and being unable to place or receive calls. Depending on a variety of factors, a user’s SIM card may or may not be updated to support the modern T-Mobile network, but there’s an easy way to check on iPhone.

Without going to a retail store or calling a hotline, T-Mobile and Sprint customers can update their SIM card settings directly on their iPhone. It is important to note, though, that after updating a SIM card the device may be unable to connect to the CDMA network again — which shouldn’t be a problem, since the network is on its way out. Simply navigating to Settings > Cellular > SIM Applications will reveal an option to manually update SIM card settings. A prompt should appear stating “YES settings are up to date,” signifying the network settings have been updated. If issues are still encountered, restarting the device might solve the problem. Otherwise, contacting the cellular provider is the only recourse in the wake of the shutdown of T-Mobile’s Sprint 3G CDMA network.

Next: Is T-Mobile Home Internet Good? Why You Should (And Shouldn’t) Sign Up

Source: The Verge, SoftBank

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