T-Mobile: 190,000 MetroPCS subs were still on CDMA network ahead of shutdown

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) said that as of Friday, 190,000 customers on its MetroPCS prepaid brand still had phones connecting to MetroPCS' legacy network, which was turned off on Sunday as T-Mobile completed the final market shutdowns in Dallas, Miami and New York City.

The 190,000 figure was down from the less than 300,000 customers T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said were still on the legacy MetroPCS network in mid-May. T-Mobile said in early May that it would be fully shutting down the MetroPCS CDMA network on Sunday, earlier than expected.

T-Mobile spokesman Martin McBride told FierceWireless on Friday that the carrier expected the 190,000 figure to fall dramatically once the actual migration starts and customers lose CDMA service. T-Mobile expects many of those who had waited until the very end to switch over to T-Mobile's GSM-based network.

McBride and other T-Mobile representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment today on if the 190,000 figure had changed.

In July 2014 T-Mobile noted that 92 percent of MetroPCS' customers on the legacy CDMA network in Boston, Hartford, Conn., and Las Vegas moved onto T-Mobile's GSM/HSPA+/LTE network after T-Mobile shut off the CDMA service in those markets. 

"Any MetroPCS customer using a CDMA handset in a migration market has been eligible for our HSPA/LTE device Upgrade Program," T-Mobile said in a statement to FierceWireless. "In order to take advantage of the new network, all customers need to do is bring their active phone to a participating MetroPCS store, choose a new phone, apply their trade-in credit toward that phone, and start using the new network right away."

MetroPCS has said customers with an older phone model can receive an upgrade credit when they upgrade to a new GSM-based phone model. Based on the make and model, MetroPCS customers will receive an upgrade credit of $32, $54, $109 or $299, which will help defray the cost of upgrading.

To be eligible for an upgrade as part of the program, customers must have an active phone on the MetroPCS network and the phone's MEID must match the MEID on the customer's account. The phone must also have been active on the MetroPCS account for at least 30 days. Once at a MetroPCS retail location, sales representatives can further determine if the make and model of the customer's phone is eligible for the upgrade program.

For customers who have not yet traded in their CDMA phones, their phones were to deactivate beginning on Sunday, except for 911 emergency services and the 611 MetroPCS customer care line. "We have been preparing these customers for the switch, having sent messages outlining details of the transition via SMS and voicemail in English and Spanish, as well as posting information in our stores, on our website, and through customer care lines encouraging them to make the switch," T-Mobile said. "We are ready and able to help these customers when they're ready to make the move."

T-Mobile will likely begin refarming the AWS and PCS spectrum in the remaining CDMA markets that are being shut off. However, it's unclear how quickly those airwaves will be put to use for GSM-based or LTE service. T-Mobile has been using refarmed MetroPCS spectrum to produce wider spectrum channels of 15x15 or 20x20 MHz for faster speeds.  

For more:
- see this MetroPCS site

Related articles:
T-Mobile catches up with Sprint: Both carriers now cover 280 million POPs with LTE
T-Mobile to shut down legacy MetroPCS CDMA network on June 21
T-Mobile expects to add more than 3M postpaid subs in 2015
As MetroPCS, Leap and Cincinnati Bell networks shut down, it's regional trench warfare for carriers
T-Mobile: 92% of MetroPCS CDMA subs moved onto GSM network amid shutdown in 3 markets

Article updated June 22 at 10:55 a.m. ET to note that T-Mobile shut down its legacy MetroPCS CDMA network on June 21.

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