Google Fi will stop activating non-VoLTE phones in January, and encourage customers with older phones to upgrade using a $100 charge provided they purchase a new phone from the Fi store and trigger it before December 31st, 9to5Google reports.
Google’s hand is forced in the issue. Customers subscribe to Fi, but as an MVNO, Fi really piggybacks on T-Mobile along with US Cellular’s networks to provide coverage. Since T-Mobile has announced its own plans to phase out support for non-VoLTE phones starting in January 2021, Fi has to as well.
VoLTE stands for”Voice over LTE”, which is the handling of telephone calls over LTE data instead of older 3G technology. VoLTE calls are typically clearer, with fewer drops in relation, though they’re completely unavailable to older phones that only use 3G radios and even some ancient LTE models too.
There’s no hard date to the conclusion of 3G service at Fi, but it is coming, and until Google makes an official statement, your very best bet is to search for when T-Mobile finishes its coverage. T-Mobile gained a great deal of sway over what Fi can provide when it purchased Sprint, giving it control over both of the largest networks Fi relied on.
There is actually a couple cheap options available on the Fi store that could function as a quick fix. We like Google’s Pixel 4a, which generally sells for $349, but there’s also choices you could get for less than $100 with Google’s present holiday advertising.
Updating to greater cell service is a long term good for the usability of phones, but it’s an inconvenience to customers. Verizon already made its change a while ago, churns out elements of 3G services in favor of LTE and 5G over time. AT&T and T-Mobile’s plans are somewhat more abrupt. There’s an extreme focus on updating to 5G which is apparently motivating all of this, which is particularly inconvenient since roughly 30 million Americans nevertheless used 3G exclusively as of 2019. Unless customers can upgrade, they are left behind.