Freeup: notice about AT&T deadline

Finally, got an email from FreeUP about the impending AT&T 3G shutdown:

""More advanced and faster wireless networks are on the way. 3G networks for all carriers are shutting down across the country throughout 2022.

Once the 3G network is shutdown, all services, voice, messaging, and data will stop working if you don’t have a VoLTE capable and compatible phone. Action Required for: xxxxxxxxxx Your Phone May Not WorkOur records indicate your phone(s) may not work once the AT&T 3G network is fully retired on February 22, 2022. You will likely need a new phone to continue uninterrupted service. We're Here To HelpVisit the Freeup Mobile website for the most up-to-date information. Here you can check your current phone compatibility, tips for new phones, order a new SIM card if needed, and much more."

My phones on FreeUP are running on 3G voice, because of the limitations of the dual-SIM setup (only one SIM can have LTE, and the other SIM is a legacy FreedomPop SIM for data.) I disabled the data SIM, turned on LTE on the FreeUP SIM, and it kind of seems like I'm getting VoLTE.

Nothing in the email, or in the linked page, specifically says you must have a whitelisted phone, but it does suggest them: but their compatibility checker does seem to adhere to the AT&T whitelist. (My current phones fail the whitelist test.) Like the Cricket IMEI test, there are some interesting results from phones that aren't specifically on the whitelist, but do clear the IMEI test. I did find one phone that fails the Cricket IMEI test, and passes the FreeUP test: a Tracfone Moto E5.

If you need to check a phone to see if it will work after late Feb on AT&T, the Freeup page seems more user friendly than the Cricket page. You can use a drop-down menu to work from manufacturer to whitelisted models. FreeUP users can enter their phone number to get a quick go/no-go test on your current phone.

I put two of my FreeUp SIMs into an iPhone 5 and an HTC Desire 610, neither of which has VoLTE. They are still working as of this morning, even though the shutdown date was supposedly yesterday.

I tried to do a little scanning across multiple forums yesterday to see what was happening. I saw a couple of reports of 3G coverage actually being shut off in some specific locales. At least one report of an MVNO now sending out new deadline notices, IIRC, March 15. One article saying that AT&T had inked an agreement with T-Mobile to provide roaming access to T-Mobile's 3G network for a while. Another article about a legal challenge requiring AT&T to maintain some IOT access for an additional time period still crawling forward. And a lot of "nothing happened".

Shut down might be on a rolling local tower basis instead of a global 'switch'.

I upgraded our FreeUP lines to compliant phones. I was surprised how fast the website auto-updated the IMEI I moved the SIM to on one line-- the other did not auto-register the change right away, but noted the SIM had moved, and I updated it manually in the dashboard. Had to send a help request to enable VoLTE, and asked CS about SIM swaps (still allowed):: the IMEI is updated via network scans, which might not be immediate. If I understand correctly, being able to change/report an IMEI change in the dashboard is more of a user comfort thing than functional: the network scan is what is really relied on.

Despite the warnings, so far mine is working with the Asus ZenFone L1 (aka the little turtle). Will keep it there along with a FP sim until it no longer works. Once obsolete, I will move it to another supported phone and then figure out what to do with the turtle.

tech-stitch, does your turtle get VoLTE?

When doing a search, I did not see anything that states it does to be honest which would probably explain the email received. If curious, the model is ZA550KL-LIVE-L1. When I go home, I am going to check the network settings to see if there is a VOLTE setting, as I did forget to check that.

My main devices aren't ones that any US carrier recognizes as existing, so I get to deal with things like this and Tracfone's Verizon IMEI limitation refusing to acknowledge that yes, my phone can do that...

Sorry to veer OT
Do you succeed w/TF? They just go ahead and whitelist your phone(s) or some other (half-step?) to get them working on TF VZW network?

If you are OK with sharing I'm curious what non USA phones you use/like here in N.America and what they provide vs. domestic market phones that is worth the effort of having to "swim against the tide".
Dual SIM comes to mind but other than that I'm ignorant.

I use a Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 (previously used a Mi Mix...2, I think, and before that a Kiicaa Mix if I remember correctly) and an Aldocube M8 tablet. Mainly due to a combination of dual sim support and better features for the price points. I'm getting an Astro Slide 5G to (gosh, I hope) replace the Mi Mix 3.

None of those are on Verizon's Blessed List (well, actually, maybe the Slide will be; I don't know), and for the most part I don't think AT&T or T-Mobile will have them in their databases with regard to whether they support VOLTE and such or not. My status bar literally has the little VOLTE icon next to the signal meter for my FreeUp SIM, and they still send me those notices.

For Tracfone (to veer off topic now) I had to use the same trick as you'll find recommended pretty much anywhere that covers give them the IMEI of an unlocked Verizon phone to activate the SIM and then put the SIM in your Verizon-frequency-supporting-but-not-Verizon-recognized device and just use it. Historically (apparently this might have become more common recently?) Tracfone is unlikely to flag you for that; they just can't activate the Verizon SIM without a Verizon-blessed IMEI (probably because the Verizon mothership requires one, rather than by fault of the Tracfone system).

That said, I recommend being careful about multiple Tracfone sims in the same device, as I think either putting two Tracfone sims (one T-Mobile, one Verizon) in my phone at the same time, or swapping one of them in without first booting another device with the previous one in it, was what caused my balances to disappear several weeks ago. And then getting THAT cleared up was way more of a hassle than it should have been, because I didn't actually physically have any device their system would tell the support reps it was okay for me to use with a Verizon-network SIM.

I'll refrain from digressing even further into the resolution of that situation though.

AT&T pulled the plug on their 3G network in my area some time between 4-9pm today

My sim stopped working in my non-VoLTE phone a few days ago in my area.

Interesting note is that when I put it into a VoLTE phone, since it uses data, they must set it to something low like 2G speeds or something. I noticed I was able to search on google, bring up web pages, launch ibotta app, use google maps... just really slowly (pulling up google maps and creating directions took me several minutes before it finished loading everything).

Interesting. I know I have an account credit from the past coupons, so when I used data (rarely), it deducted from there and it was LTE speeds.

I do have to check if the phone still works today.

Yeah, one of my favorite undocumented things about the FreeUP free plan. Minutes overages work, too, seamlessly, but with a warning to refill, as long as you have account credit.
Our FreeUP lines were paired with legacy FreedomPop LTE SIMs, in dual-SIM phones, so data use wasn't an issue. Unfortunately, my dual-SIM phones are not sanctioned by AT&T, so that won't work anymore. (And my phone would only do LTE on one SIM at a time....)

Hrm, I do have credit on my account from the coupon days, but it never got deducted for anything and if I look at the add-on section, option to purchase LTE data is not available. I remember it was one of the earlier plans before they chopped it down to 250 talk/text with no data (which is what it shows now). Only thing I seem to have an option for the credit is to buy a plan, but I don't think you can go back to free once you use up your credit.

You're right-- you can't buy an add-on for the grandfathered free plan, and you can't get the free plan back if you change it. What the plan does do is to charge overage rates for minutes/texts/mb of data over the free (or no) allotment. At one point, I think I was able to estimate the per-unit overage cost-- from memory, a few cents per unit. Definitely not something you'd want to do intentionally for data, but workable for an emergency (or in my case, for Google Voice.). Over 2 years, I've whittled my balance down by $10 or so.

Update: So far I can still make calls on the turtle (FreeUp and FP). We will see how long that goes on for, as I have yet to confirm the phone supports VoLTE.

I never used data and even 250 talk/text is more than I use in a month so I've never gone over.

Do they charge immediately when you go over? According to the usage history, I've used up like 8MB of data yesterday, but I don't see any charges. Granted, it's all super slow (I think maybe 15KB/s).

For me, the billing updates to the data consumed were quite fast.

Well here's my history and when I check the payment history, no charges. My balance hasn't changed in ages either. So I guess for now, maybe it's a hidden feature. Of course at these super slow speeds, maybe ATT just doesn't care.

Interesting for sure!